Sunday, August 7, 2011

What's Selling, The Beginning of August Edition--Escaping Through Fiction, Film, and Traveling to Milwaukee...

When I saw that Jason had bought a pile of the second edition of The Rebel Bookseller*, the memoir-festo by Andrew Laties, I thought, "Huh?"  That book's been out forever.  But I had also given advice to a woman with a consulting business and a two year old book platform, telling her that if she wanted to get some press and placement in retailers, she needed to update the book for a second edition, and coordinate a publicity campaign for its release.

And that's apparently what Seven Stories has done. And it certainly doesn't hurt that David Schwartz is referenced in The Rebel Bookseller.

Paperback nonfiction:
1. The Rebel Bookseller, by Andrew Laties
2. Farm City, by Novella Carpenter
3. F in Exams, by Richard Benson
4. German Milwaukee, by Jennifer Schumacher
5. North Point Historic Districts, by Shirley McArthur

Imagine what are numbers would look like if Milwaukee encouraged tourism in our area.  As it is, we get our fair share of folks wandering over.

Paperback fiction:
1. The Hangman's Daughter, by Oliver Pötzsch
2. The Curfew, by Jesse Ball
3. The Help, by Kathryn Stockett
4. Room, by Emma Donoghue
5. A Visit from the Goon Squad, by Jennifer Egan
6. Sarah's Key, by Tatiana de Rosnay
7. Bury Your Dead, by Louise Penny
8. Montana 1948, by Larry Watson
9. Faithful Place, by Tana French
10. Kraken, by China Mieville

We had a particularly good paperback fiction sale this week so I expanded to ten titles here.  Our movie table's been doing well lately--in addition to Sarah's Key, The Hunger Games, and The Help, we've also had nice pops of sale on One Day. But Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, which opened down the block from us last week?  Not so much, even though we've sold the book very well and it's also featured on our Summer of China display. It's the mixed reviews, alas.

Hardcover nonfiction:
1. Milwaukee Wisconsin: A Photographic Portrait, by Anne Bingham
2. All My Friends are Dead, by Avery Monsen
3. Max Gordon: Architect for Art, by David Gordon (event on 8/17)
4. Treat me, not My Age, by Mark Lachs
5. The Man in the Rockefeller Suit, by Mark Seal

Those were the first copies of Mark Lachs's book that we sold, so I'm wondering what publicity hit happened.  Probably NPR.  Yes, this is the piece: "Gerontologist and commentator Mark Lachs says research in aging shows that once people reach a certain age, rates of disease, disability and death start to decline."

Hardcover fiction:
1. A Dance with Dragons, by George R.R. Martin
2. Ghost Story, by Jim Butcher
3. State of Wonder, by Ann Patchett
4. Portrait of a Spy, by Daniel Silva
5. The Last Werewolf, by Glen Duncan

Very summery, no? it's interesting to look at the sales patterns for regularly published authors such as Daniel Silva and Jim Butcher, being that I not only have Boswell's sales records, but that of the Downer Schwartz, whose assets we purchased. (As I say every time we sign someone up on Boswell Benefits, we didn't purchase the customer mailing list, so I'm not including that.)

Our hardcover Butcher sale has increased with every book since we've been open, and I think this is the first appearance on our bestseller list.  There was a time when the Downer location couldn't sell a single Butcher, but with our beefed up sf&f sections (including complete Butcher, which we periodically get a a customer for, plowing through the series), we could break double digits on this one.  That's not a lot for most folk, but I take my successes where I can find them.

For Silva, our peak year for sales on his Gabriel Allon was 21 in 2010. Sales were down last year, likely in part because it was the last book in a contract when he was changing publishers.  I'm sure there's a portion that's done as it's required, but I get it--you're still investing in the book, but not necessarily in the brand. I also think you notice this less with literary fiction than with commercial fiction; in the former, the marketing tends to be more book than series driven. While Emma Donoghue's next novel is important, the focus is on selling Room, not building Emma Donoghue.

Of course there are a hundred different interpretations of this data, including declining printed book sales as ebooks take a larger percentage of sales. And this is all my own opinion, not fact. A hundred publishers could write in and say that's not how they roll. Hey, why don't you?

And just so you don't think we're getting all series on you, our #6 hardcover was Donald Ray Pollock's The Devil all the Time. Read this Los Angeles Times story for more.

Books for Les Petits Enfants:
1. Skippyjon Jones: Class Action, by Judy Schachner
2. The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins
3. Goodnight Gorilla, by Peggy Rathmann
4. Spellbound: The Book of Elsewhere #2, by Jacqueline West
5. Otis, by Loren Long (the board book)

Why did our inventory feed get all "Judith Byron" when the book says "Judy?"  That said, just when I was wondering why we weren't having a sales pop on our cute floor display of the new Skippyjon Jones book, complete with flying El Skippito, it turns out that it really was the right week to put up our back-to-school display.

Oh, and our customer Francie told me that The Book of Shadows was very good.

*Not just The Rebel Bookseller is available to purchase on our website, but all the titles mentioned here. You can also buy many of them on ebook (anything but Kindle).  Visit the for more details.

1 comment:

Andy Laties said...

Very exciting to hear you are having success with the 2nd edition of R.B.

When Seven Stories Press told me the project was a go, the first thing I did was ask Bill Ayers to write an essay about the night David Schwartz refused to cancel the Ayers reading after 9/11, when the bookstore was being threatened. That essay is the 2nd Edition's afterword. This link is my own essay about that night: