Sunday, December 2, 2012

Sunday Bestsellers for Week Ending December 1--Awards and Movie Tie-ins Rule, but Staff Recs Also Hold Court.

Hardcover fiction:
1. The Round House, by Louise Erdrich
2. Dear Life, by Alice Munro
3. Flight Behavior, by Barbara Kingsolver
4. A Working Theory of Love, by Scott Hutchins
5. Cold Days, by Jim Butcher
6. The Yellow Birds, by Kevin Powers
7. Building Stories, by Chris Ware
8. Blasphemy, by Sherman Alexie
9. Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn
10. Charlie Brown's Christmas Stocking, by Charles M. Schulz

Two publishers talking around a water cooler last spring...
"Did you hear that HarperCollins is publishing their big women authors in the fall?"
"That's ridiculous. Everyone knows you publish women in April, to make great presents for Mother's Day."

And I just want to mention that regarding The Yellow Birds, we told you to come and get a signed first edition of Kevin Powers book when he appeared on Friday, September 14, although I must admit we only gave you two days notice. In addition to the National Book Award nom, he's just been named one of the top five best fiction books of the year by The New York Times, along with Bring Up the Bodies, Building Stories, A Hologram for the King, and NW, which by the way, got a negative review in the daily NYT. That's nothing! The Patriarch got a negative review from Kakutani the same week it was named one of the five best nonfiction titles of the year.

Hardcover nonfiction:
1. How Children Succeed, by Paul Tough
2. Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power, by Jon Meacham
3. Hallucinations, by Oliver Sacks
4. Roots, by Diane Morgan
5. How Music Works, by David Byrne
6. The Science of Good Cooking, by Cooks Illustrated
7. Antifragile, by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
8. Waging Heavy Peace, by Neil Young
9. Behind the Beautiful Forevers, by Katherine Boo
10. Both Flesh and Not, by David Foster Wallace

There are rarely high profile early December releases, partly because of the fear will not make their way into the marketplace from backrooms. Displays are set and most retailers are too busy to change them up. It's usually just a few high-profile commercial fiction writers. Another problem is that best-of lists have cut-offs, and a December book will wind up on a 2013 list in most cases, by which time the book will likely be in paperback. But I begin to wonder how the rise of internet sales and ebooks as a percentage of sales will change that.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb's Antifragile: Things that Gain from Disorder is a particularly unusual choice for a December release because I always think of offices as effectively going on vacation from Thanksgiving to New Year's. But on the other hand, there are an awful lot of business folk who are on holiday gift lists. And I've heard that corporate sales build a little more slowly, with a lot of word of mouth involved, making release date less important. Taleb's book says to reject "stability, resilience, and rigidity" for a stronger future organization. Read more in Forbes.

Paperback fiction:
1. The Life of Pi, by Yann Martel
2. The Buddha in the Attic, by Julie Otsuka
3. Wolf Hall, by Hillary Mantel
4. The Sense of an Ending, by Julian Barnes
5. Best American Short Stories, edited by Tom Perrotta and Heidi Pitlor
6. Rules of Civility, by Amor Towles
7. The Marriage Plot, by Jeffrey Eugenides
8. State of Wonder, by Ann Patchett
9. The Snow Child, by Eowyn Ivey
10. Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy, translated by Pevear and Volokhonsky

Strong reviews and nearby openings have led to strong sales of Life of Pi, Anna Karenina, and Team of Rivals. The Silver Linings Playbook, which is Weinstein's best Oscar hope, is not playing in traditional art house theaters,opening instead at AMC Mayfair and the Marcus Majestic in Wauwatosa and Waukesha respectively, which will simply not give us the sales pop. I'm sort of surprised that they skipped the North Shore Cinema, as my customers will travel up there for a film, but they (and I say this knowing that my customer base overlaps very strongly with art house cinema patrons) get a little itchy navigating Mayfair Mall during the holiday season, and Waukesha is just not gonna happen for most of them, just like most (but certainly not all) Waukesha customers tell me that Boswell is too far from them. And then there are others who come weekly, so go figure.

Conclusion: I look at this very commercial book jacket and the release schedule (which has changed from wide release to platform) and think that Weinstein is having some positioning issues.It's fun to be a pundit!

Nonfiction paperback:
1. Building Taliesin, by Ron McCrea
2. Schuster's and Gimbels, by Paul Geenen (at Washington Park Library on Tues. Nov 4, 6:30 pm)
3. Team of Rivals, by Doris Kearns Goodwin
4. My Stroke of Insight, by Jill Bolte Taylor
5. Whatever it Takes, by Paul Tough

We had an extra-large turnout to see Ron McCrea for a fine talk. There's nothing like having Frank Lloyd Wright as a subject to pique interest, at least in Wisconsin.

Hardcover books for kids:
1. The Fault in our Stars, by John Green
2. Diary of  a Wimpy Kid: The Third Wheel, by Jeff Kinney
3. Three Times Lucky, by Sheila Turnage
4. Hollow Earth, by John and Carole E. Barrowman
5. Goodnight Goodnight Construction Site, by Sherri Duskey Rinker
6. Mice, by Lois Ehlert

I was not paying attention to bestseller lists, only to spot Rinker's 2011 favorite still at #1 on the bestseller lists. Now that holiday shopping is here, folks are paying attention to these things, and this also indicates great word of mouth. Folks also paid attention to the Boswell recommendations in the Journal Sentinel last Sunday, hence the sales pop for John Green and  Sheila Turnage's Three Times Lucky. At Hannah's suggestion, I am also recommending Turnage to adults.

Paperback books for kids:
1. Hanukkah Mad Libs, inspired by Roger Price
2. Wildwood, by Colin Meloy
3. Magic Tree House: Ghost Tale for Christmas Time, by Mary Pope Osborne
4. Pathfinder, by Orson Scott Card
5. Good Night Wisconsin, by Adam Gamble
6. Happy Hanukkah Curious George, inspired by H.A. Rey

Amie's convinced that when Hanukkah and Christmas is very apart, more presents are bought, as dual-heritage families celebrate both holidays separately, but when they are close, they celebrate them together. And I have to say I can't remember two Hanukkah books in my top ten kids titles for a week last year. I'll have to check.

Speaking of Hanukkah, we're hosting a shopping afternoon for Congregation Shir Hadash today from 2 to 6 pm. Folks shopping during that time can choose to have 10% of their purchases (exclusing gift cards, newspapers, and some short-discount titles) accrue to the organization in lieu of Boswell Benefits. We have two more shopping days next weekend. Saturday's is for St. Robert School in Shorewood (12-4 pm), and Sunday's is the annual Maryland Avenue Montessori School pajama party, (4-8 pm).

In Sunday's Journal Sentinel, Jim Higgins notes that the Americanization of the Christmas tree runs parallel to the Americanization of Germans in Bernd Brunner's Inventing the Christmas Tree (Yale). Who knew that the preference for symmetrical Christmas trees was distinctly American?

Richard Thieme is interviewed by Jackie Loohauis-Bennett on his new book UFO's and Government: A Historical Inquiry. Thieme's book is a mangum opus of speculative inquiry. Alas, the book is short discount from a small publisher, and while we are able to order it in, our price would be $39.95, higher than quoted in the newspaper.

And from the JSonline blog, Higgins offers a United States of teen reading map. Wisconsin is represented by Catherine Gilbert Murdock's Dairy Queen.

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