Sunday, December 27, 2015

The annotated Boswell bestseller lists for the week ending December 26, 2015, plus the Journal Sentinel reviews, including the Alice and Wonderland roundup.

Hardcover Fiction:
1. All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr
2. Our Souls at Night, by Kent Haruf
3. Fates and Furies, by Lauren Groff
4. The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins
5. Girl Waits with Gun, by Amy Stewart
6. Go Set a Watchman, by Harper Lee
7. The Little Paris Bookshop, by Nina George
8. Avenue of Mysteries, by John Irving
9. The Rogue Lawyer, by John Grisham
10. The Lake House, by Kate Morton
11. A Manual for Cleaning Women, by Lucia Berlin
12. A Little Life, by Hanya Yanagihara
13. Purity, by Jonathan Franzen
14. The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah
15. The Nature of the Beast, by Louise Penny
16. Secondhand Souls, by Christopher Moore
17. Outline, by Rachel Cusk
18. City on Fire, by Garth Risk Hallberg
19. Career of Evil, by Robert Galbraith
20. The Crossing, by Michael Connelly

When I heard that Amy Stewart's next book was a novel, I didn't expect her sales would equal her works of nonfiction, but just with hardcover sales of Girl Waits with Gun through Christmas, she's already beaten sales of all previous books at Boswell with the except of The Drunken Botanist (which we had an event for) and Wicked Plants. Steve Inskeep talked to Stewart about her book on NPR, explaining how a 1914 traffic accident led to her story.

Here's a little comping for author titles. John Irving's newest hardcover, Avenue of Mysteries, is now decently ahead of his last, In One Person (well, 5 copies) and that's life of book (and there will likely be more sales in 2016). One more copy and we'll also beat our sales for 2009's Last Night in Twisted River (for hardcover).

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Milwaukee: City of Neighborhoods, by John Gurda
2. Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates
3. The Thing Explainer, by Randall Munroe
4. The Notorious RBG, by Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik
5. SPQR, by Mary Beard
6. M Train, by Patti Smith
7. Gratitude, by Oliver Sacks
8. Being Mortal, by Atul Gawande
9. The Givenness of Things, by Marilynne Robinson
10. The Food Lab, by J. Kendi Lopez-Alt
11. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo
12. The Witches, by Stacy Schiff
13. H is for Hawk, by Helen MacDonald (ticketed event 4/12)
14. Humans of New York, by Brandon Stanton
15. Hunger Makes me a Modern Girl, by Carrie Brownstein
16. The Bassoon King, by Rainn Wilson
17. 100 Documents that Changed the World, by Scott Christianson
18. Dead Wake, by Erik Larson
19. Gone with the Gin, by Tim Federle
20. Destiny and Power, by Jon Meacham
21. The Invention of Nature, by Andrea Wulf
22. Boys in the Trees, by Carly Simon
23. My Life on the Road, by Gloria Steinem
24. Rosemary, by Kate Clifford Larson
25. Furiously Happy, by Jenny Lawson

What categories seemed to work well for us this fall? Well, a quick glance that regional titles were king. Our sales of Milwaukee: City of Neighborhoods dwarfed the rest, but their dominance was mostly in nonfiction. There are lots of memoirs in hardcover, with a strong showing from women (six), with three being music themed - Patti Smith's M Train, Carrie Brownstein's Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl, and Carly Simon's Boys in the Trees. SPQR and The Witches dominated the history category while one nontraditional biography (Notorious RBG, on Ruth Bader Ginsburg) and two more standard bios - Destiny and Power (George H.W. Bush) and Rosemary (Kennedy) - took home the gold, silver, and bronze.

Paperback Fiction:
1. My Brilliant Friend V1, by Elena Ferrante
2. A Brief History of Seven Killings, by Marlon James
3. Shady Hollow, by Juneau Black
4. Everything I Never Told You, by Celeste Ng
5. Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay V3, by Elena Ferrante
6. Brooklyn, by Colm Toibin
7. Unbecoming, by Rebecca Scherm (event 1/8)
8. Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel
9. Best American Short Stories 2015, edited by T.C. Boyle
10. The Story of a New Name V2, by Elena Ferrante
11. Florence Gordon, by Brian Morton
12. The Shadow of the Wind, by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
13. The Invention of Wings, by Sue Monk Kidd
14. Trigger Warning, by Neil Gaiman
15. The Dovekeepers, by Alice Hoffman
16. Etta and Otto and Russell and James, by Emma Hooper
17. Somewhere in France, by Jennifer Robson (ticketed event 1/21 at Lynden)
18 Dear Committee Members, by Julie Schumacher
19. A Child's Christmas in Wales, by Dylan Thomas
20. The Paying Guests, by Sarah Waters

Publishers have hot streaks for sure, but it's unusual for the Penguin division of Penguin Random House to have 9 of the top 20 paperback fiction titles. Of course that comes with a caveat - I'm including the sold-and-distributed-but-not-owned-by Europa Books, which has three Elena Ferrante titles. The rest of the breakout? Two titles from Riverhead (Marlon James and Sarah Waters), two from Penguin-via-Viking (Rebecca Scherm and Sue Monk Kidd) , and two from Penguin-via-Penguin Press (Celeste Ng and Carlos Ruiz Zafon). And cheers to Rebecca Scherm, whose upcoming book club discussion and event has really popped Unbecoming. Publishers Weekly wrote: "Scherm mixes a character study with a caper novel full of double-crosses, lies, and betrayals."

Nonfiction Paperbacks:
1. World War II Milwaukee, by Meg Jones (event 1/29, more stock on 1/28!)
2. Just Mercy, by Bryan Stevenson
3. The Enchanted Forest, by Johanna Basford
4. The Secret Garden, by Johanna Basford
5. The Mindfulness Coloring Book, by Emma Farrarons
6. Milwaukee Mayhem, by Matthew J. Prigge
7. When Books Went to War, by Molly Guptill Manning
8. Essential Strums and Strokes, by Lil' Rev
9. The Boys in the Boat, by Daniel James Brown
10. You are Badass, by Jen Sincero
11. The Geography of Bliss, by Eric Weiner
12. The Big Short, by Michael Lewis
13. Wisconsin Supper Club Cookbook, by Mary Bergin
14. Educating Milwaukee, by James K. Nelsen
15. Milwaukee Food, by Lori Fredrich
16. Pogue's Basics: Life, by David Pogue
17. Yes, Please, by Amy Poehler
18. The Birth of the Pill, by Jonathan Eig
19. Milwaukee Mafia, by Gavin Schmitt
20. Concussion, by Jill Marie Laskas
21. Silver Screen Fiend, by Patton Oswalt
22. Girl in a Band, by Kim Gordon
23. Holidays on Ice, by David Sedaris
24. How to Sit, by Thich Nhat Hanh (we should loan out our chair display to other stores)
25. How to Relax, by Thich Nhat Hanh

It's paperback nonfiction where regional books really shine - they have five of the top 25 this week, with Milwaukee Mayhem and Milwaukee Mafia splitting the bad boy market. We've got two film tie-ins with The Big Short and Concussion. I did a last-minute peek at the books at Urban Outfitters, and unlike other years, our books didn't overlap much, but they had a very solid pile of You are a Badass. Hey, if we were their buyers, we would have bought it for them too. As for the rest, a week before Christmas, it's possible they were out of the books they were selling well. Kudos to Jason and Amie, as we were hardly out of anything this holiday.

Here's Diane Patrick's profile of Chris Jackson in Publishers Weekly, who acquired two of the most popular books of this fall, Between the World and Me and Just Mercy. Read both and want to explore race and social justice? Jackson recommends:
--Ghettoside, by Jill Levoy
--The New Jim Crow, by Michelle Alexander
--The Warmth of Other Suns, by Isabelle Wilkerson

Books for Kids:
1. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, illustrated edition, by J.K. Rowling and Jim Kay
2. Diary of a Wimpy Kid V10: Old School, by Jeff Kinney
3. Peekaboo, by Giuliano Ferri
4. The Whisper, by Pamela Zagarenski
5. Crenshaw, by Katherine Applegate
6. Pierre the Maze Detective, by Hiro Kamigaki
7. The Day the Crayons Came Home, by Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers
8. Waiting, by Kevin Henkes
9. Zen Socks, by Jon J. Muth
10. Mother Bruce, by Ryan T. Higgins
11. Dinoblock, by Christopher Franceschelli
12. Harry Potter Coloring Book, by J.K. Rowling
13. Ms. Rapscott's Girls, by Elise Primavera
14. North Woods Girl, by Aimee Bissonette with illustrations by Cluade McGehee
15. 50 States, by Gabrielle Balkan with illustrations by Sol Linero
16. Picturepedia, from DK Publishing
17. The Sword of Summer, by Rick Riordan
18. The Doldrums, by Nicholas Gannon
19. Dumplin', by Julie Murphy
20. I Am a Bunny, by Ole Risom and Richard Scarry
21. The Marvels, by Brian Selznick
22. Star Wars: The Force Awakens Incredible Cross Sections, by Jason Fry
23. The Polar Express, by Chriss Van Allsburg
24. The Little Tree, by Loren Long
25. The Imaginary, by A.F. Harrold

One of our big breakouts of the holiday is an import from Italy. Peekaboo, from Giuliano Ferri's Peekaboo is a charming board book where your tot can play the peekaboo game with a book. According to Above the Treeline, we're the #1 store for sales listed in the country. To my fellow bookstores, you'll find that folks will buy this if you display it. And don't be sad that it's after Christmas - it's likely that you will still be introducing it to your customers, and it's an all-year treat to young ones. Publishers Weekly writes "The concept couldn’t be simpler, but the warmth and personality that exude from Ferri’s wonderfully furry and fuzzy portraits give the sense that readers have just made half a dozen new animal friends, while a mirror insert ends the book with a playful surprise."

Last minute sales skew a bit younger than earlier in the season, as there are very few young adult or teen titles on our top 20. One book we had fun selling was Kevin Henkes' Waiting We had a nice display of the book put in our kids' window by Carly, and the book had a nice pop from our holiday catalog. While we were a relatively low-ranking #14 on Above the Treeline (of about 280 stores), one has to remember that 5 to 10 of these stores probably had event and/or school visits and we did on a combination of a built-in fan base and bookseller enthusiasm. I love this description from Dan Saltzstein in The New York Times Book Review, observing that Henkes "creates an appealing cast of toys to get at the concept of waiting — a tough one to convey to a child. (The best I could do during a recent attempt with my 3-year-old daughter: 'It’s when you stay in one place until something happens.' She was not impressed.)"

Over at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Jon M. Gilbertson reviews Sam Phillips: The Man Who Invented Rock 'n' Roll. He writes: "Less than five pages into his Sam Phillips biography, Peter Guralnick allows that his subject 'would have both claimed and disclaimed' the subtitle. Rock 'n' roll was more a discovery than an invention, and Phillips told Guralnick he just 'spotted the possum.'" Dwight Garner at The New York Times is also the fan, noting that Guralnick is "the perfect man to tell this story."

Jim Higgins rounds up the books being published for the 150th anniversary of Alice in Wonderland. We're not always on top of these commemorative displays but Jen came to me with the suggestion, based on noticing what was being published in the gift world.
--The Story of Alice, by Robert Douglas-Fairhurst
--The Annotated Alice: 150th Anniversary Edition, written by Martin Gardner and updated by Mark Burstein
--Alice's Adventures in Wonderland Decoded , by David Day (Doubleday Canada but distributed here!)
--Alice Adventures in Wonderland: 150th Anniversary Edition, with illustrations by Salvador Dali
--Alice's Adventures in Wonderland: Panorama Pops
--After Alice: A Novel, by Gregory Maguire.

Well, that's it for the long bestseller lists for a while. We'll be back to 10 from each category after this, and at least for some weeks in the winter, five if it gets completely uninteresting after that.

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