Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Boswell bestsellers, for the week ending April 11, 2020 - battle of the celebrity book clubs

Here are the Boswell bestsellers for the week ending April 12, 2020.

Hardcover Fiction:
1. The Glass Hotel, by Emily St John Mandel
2. Murder at the Mena House, by Erica Ruth Neubauer
3. We Ride Upon Sticks, by Quan Barry
4. Redhead by the Side of the Road, by Anne Tyler
5. The Dutch House, by Ann Patchett
6. The City We Became, by NK Jemisin
7. American Dirt, by Jeanine Cummins
8. The Night Watchman, by Louise Erdrich
9. The Herd, by Andrea Bartz
10. Valentine, by Elizabeth Wetmore (Jenna Bush's book club pick)
11. Such a Fun Age, by Kiley Reid
12. The Mirror and the Light, by Hilary Mantel
13. My Dark Vanessa, by Kate Elizabeth Russell (Oprah's rejected book club pick)
14. Where the Crawdads Sing, by Delia Owens
15. The Book of Lost Friends, by Lisa Wingate

Here's a fascinating fact. The last time a man was the author of a top ten fiction book on Boswell's bestseller list was March 21, when Colum McCann's Apeirogon held down a slot. For the last three weeks it's been guy free. The national indie bookstore list from last week isn't that different - James McBride's Deacon King Kong skirted our top ten for two weeks, while Harlan Coben's The Boy from the Woods hit the lower region of our reported list. The highest debut this week are Anne Tyler's Redhead by the Side of the Road, which sold out quickly. I had a nice write-up for Tyler's latest in our email newsletter, but can't take much credit - she sells well for us and is in that target market of comfort food.

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Untamed, by Glennon Doyle
2. The Splendid and the Vile, by Erik Larson
3. Hidden Valley Road, by Robert Kolker (Oprah's current book club pick)
4. Educated, by Tara Westover
5. The Office, by Andy Greene
6. Maybe You Should Talk to Someone, by Lori Gottlieb
7. The Last Book on the Left, by Marcus Parks
8. More Myself, by Alicia Keys
9. Salt Fat Acid Heat, by Samin Nosrat
10. Nothing Fancy, by Alison Roman

Glennon Doyle's previous title, Love Warrior, was an Oprah Book Club selection. I have added up sales on the the two hardcover (Oprah and non-Oprah, publishers do this sometimes) and one paperback (but excluded second and bargain book sales) and we have now sold five times as many copies of Untamed (which is a Reese book club selection) as we did of those three combined editions. I think in this case, we've picked up some sales that might have gone to the web competitor that has delayed some book delivery. I can't fault Oprah's club right now - we sold out of her new pick (Hidden Valley Road) quite quickly.

Two more examples of how up is down right now. Two categories that are hard for us to sell outside of Christmas season are cookbooks and pop music memoirs. Well this week Alicia Keys More Myself and two cookbooks are on our top 10. I wonder if the website's hard driving campaign for Keys's new album is helping book sales in unintended markets.

Paperback Fiction:
1. Little Fires Everywhere, by Celeste Ng (two editions)
2. Daisy Jones and the Six, by Taylor Jenkins Reid
3. City of Girls, by Elizabeth Gilbert
4. Normal People, by Sally Rooney
5. A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles
6. The Overstory, by Richard Powers
7. The Story of a New Name V2, by Elena Ferrante
8. My Brilliant Friend V1, by Elena Ferrante
9. Rules of Civility, by Amor Towles
10. Station Eleven, by Emily St John Mandel

The big story on this list is backlist titles from hit authors. It has surely helped The Glass Hotel that everyone who hadn't read Station Eleven now wants to read the hot literary pandemic novel (at least until Lawrence Wright's The End of October comes out on April 28. Note that we are continuing to sell The Rules of Civility well, what with A Gentleman in Moscow's continued success. And why not, it is a novel about quarantine, though at least the protagonist gets to see the other folks in his hotel. And down at #18 is Everything I Never Told You, Celeste Ng's first novel. Now we just need a pundit to declare Richard Powers's second-best novel, so that readers know what to read next. With so many acclaimed books on his backlist, it's hard to choose.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Kids These Days, by Jody Carrington (bulk order - a rare thing these days)
2. Wow No Thank You, by Samantha Irby
3. When the Words Suddenly Stopped, by Vivian L King (two editions)
4. An Elegant Defense, by Mitt Richtel
5. Sapiens, by Yuval Noah Harari
6. A Woman of No Importance, by Sonia Purnell
7. The Devil in the White City, by Erik Larson
8. Inspired, by Rachel Held Evans
9. The Source of Self Regard, by Toni Morrison
10. The Great Influenza, by John M Barry

Much like his Rising Tide took on greater significance and added sales after Hurricane Katrina, John M Barry's The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History has been one of the go-to nonfiction books in the age of COVID-19. On the recent reprint side, A Woman of No Importance:The Untold Story of the American Spy Who Helped Win World War II hits our top ten for the first time in paperback. From the publisher: "In 1942, the Gestapo sent out an urgent transmission: 'She is the most dangerous of all Allied spies. We must find and destroy her.' The target in their sights was Virginia Hall, a Baltimore socialite who talked her way into Special Operations Executive, the spy organization dubbed Winston Churchill's 'Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare.' She became the first Allied woman deployed behind enemy lines and--despite her prosthetic leg--helped to light the flame of the French Resistance, revolutionizing secret warfare as we know it."

Books for Kids:
1. Dragon Hoops, by Gene Luen Yang
2. Deathless Divide, by Justina Ireland
3. The Toll V3, by Neal Shusterman
4. Prairie Lotus, by Linda Sue Park
5. The Good Egg Presents the Great Eggscape, by Jory John, with illustrations by Pete Oswald
6. The Conference of the Birds V5, by Ransom Riggs
7. Obsessive About Octopuses, by Owen Davey
8. Inside Outside, by Anne Margot Ramstein
9. Nesting, by Henry Cole
10. In a Jar, by Deborah Marcero

From the publisher: "The Great Eggscape is when the Good Egg and his pals escape their carton and drop into the store for a morning of fun, enjoyed by everybody. Well, almost everybody. Shel (an egg) isn't a huge fan of group activities, especially when he's made to be 'it' for a game of hide-and-seek. Nevertheless, Shel doesn't want to let his friends down, so he reluctantly plays, anyway." So my question is, is this an Easter book or not? I guess we'll find out in the coming weeks.

Over at the Journal Sentinel, here's Jim Higgins's profile of Erica Ruth Neubauer and Murder in the Mena House, the first novel featuring amateur sleuth Jane Wunderly. He notes that its appeal will go beyond mystery fans: "If you detect a touch of Austen in her heroine's first name, you would not be declared wrong. Neubauer's last cat was named Mr. Darcy."

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