Sunday, December 23, 2012

Sunday Bestseller Post--This is the Big One! Not Only are the Sales Big, but I Couldn't Stop Analyzing.

Hardcover fiction:
1. Dear Life, by Alice Munro (#21 NYT)
2. The Round House, by Louise Erdrich (#15 NYT)
3. Flight Behavior, by Barbara Kingsolver (#13 NYT)
4. Building Stories, by Chris Ware
5. A Thousand Mornings, by Mary Oliver
6. Telegraph Avenue, by Michael Chabon (#35 NYT)
7. Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn (#2 NYT)
8. The News from Spain, by Joan Wickersham
9. Bring Up the Bodies, by Hilary Mantel (#18 NYT)
10. NW, by Zadie Smith (#31 NYT)
11. The Art Forger, by B.A. Shapiro
12. Darth Vader and Son, by Jeffrey Brown (miscellaneous #7)
13. This is How You Lose Her, by Junot Diaz (#32 NYT)
14. The Age of Miracles, by Karen Thompson Walker
15. Black Box, by Michael Connelly (#9 NYT)

The takeover of the top 10 by women writers is almost complete, with Ware and and Chabon the only holdouts. If I was lazy and kept the graphic novels with nonfiction (I have to manually move them over when I make up the list), that would have knocked B.A. (Barbara) Shapiro into the top ten. The Art Forger's been selling off the Indie Next case, and I suspect this is when the Indie Next fliers really generate sales, as the book has been consistently on the top 10 Indie Next bestseller list, but it's not in the top 35 for the NYT for 12/30. We do have a couple of reads on the book, but I don't think it's on the staff rec shelf, but I'm not sure.

Of course lots of our fiction bestsellers are not in the top 15. Replacing your literary fiction (which admittedly does get a sales pop on first launch) are lots of branded mystery/thrillers, including Clancy, Baldacci, Grisham, Evanovich, and Patterson. Our sales pattern is the exact reverse of the literary and literary crossover books on the national list--a sales pop might get the book on the list for several weeks, but won't likely stay through the holiday season. Breakout authors, less established in the mass merchants, tend to hang on longer, and it doesn't hurt that Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl is hitting her share of best of lists, most recently the Entertainment Weekly top 10 and Janet Maslin's ten favorites in Friday's New York Times. And while I'm at it, the EW site linked me to Vogue's top 10 of 2012 too. Megan O'Grady is particularly hot on sleeper Elena Ferrante's My Brilliant Friend.

Two literary books in the top 35 that are not in our top 15 are The Yellow Birds (#18) and Sweet Tooth (the mixed reviews are hurting sales with us).

The announcement that Karen Thompson Walker is coming to Boswell for the paperback on February 12 popped some hardcover sales of The Age of Miracles. And I should note that while we're only trending up about 10% on Alice Munro sales from her last collection, Too Much Happiness, with certainly more sales to go, we've sold about quintuple what the Downer Schwartz sold of The View from Castle Rock in 2006. That's definitely due to the consolidation of indie bookstores in the market.

Hardcover nonfiction:
1. Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power, by Jon Meacham (#2 NYT)
2. America Again, by Stephen Colbert (#4 NYT)
3. The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, by Deb Perelman (#5 NYT miscellaneous)
4. Behind the Beautiful Forevers, by Katherine Boo (#14 NYT)
5. I Could Pee on This, by Francesco Marciuliano (#13 miscellaneous)
6. The Onion Book of Known Knowledge, edited by The Onion (#17 NYT)
7. How Music Works, by David Byrne (#26 NYT)
8. The Signal and the Noise, by Nate Silver (#6 NYT)
9. My Heart is an Idiot, by Davy Rothbart
10. Help Thanks Wow, by Anne Lamott (#3 NYT miscellaneous)
11. How Children Succeed, by Paul Tough (#35 NYT)
12. Closing the Gap, by Willie Davis
13. The Patriarch, by David Nasaw (#13 NYT)
14. Far from the Tree, by Andrew Solomon (#24 NYT)
15. Waging Heavy Peace, by Neil Young (#11 NYT)

What's missing on our list that is selling nationally? Two Bill O'Reilly titles, more music (the Bruce Springsteen bio at the lead), and Unbroken, now working its third Christmas. Most of our top titles are selling well nationally somewhere. Willie Davis clearly has regional pull while Davy Rothbart's My Heart is an Idiot is sheer force of our will, and maybe the NPR shout out helped too. You're probably wondering why some humor books are nonfiction and others are advice/miscellaneous on the NYT. I haven't understood the fine details of the distinction in the however many years it has been in place. So let's not get into why some folks who go to heaven and back are nonfiction and others are advice.

Paperback fiction:
1. The Art of Fielding, by Chad Harbach
2. Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel (#13 NYT)
3. Best American Short Stories 2012, edited by Tom Perotta (#23 NYT)
4. How it All Began, by Penelope Lively
5. City of Dark Magic, by Magnus Flyte
6. Life of Pi, by Yann Martel (#2 NYT)
7. Rules of Civility, by Amor Towles
8.The Sense of an Ending, by Julian Barnes (#28 NYT)
9. State of Wonder, by Ann Patchett (#30 NYT)
10. Fifty Shades of Gray, by E.L. James (#1 NYT)
11. The Paris Wife, by Paula McLain (#5 NYT)
12. 11-22-63, by Stephen King (#16 NYT)
13. The House at Tyneford, by Natasha Solomons
14. The Marriage Plot, by Jeffrey Eugenides
15. Sharp Objects, by Gillian Flynn (oddly enough Dark Places is on the NYT, not this)

I should note that several books in the paperback fiction NYT list, like The Language of Flowers, The Snow Child, and Carry the One, are regularly popping up in our top ten, but not this week. The Night Circus and The Tiger's Wife, however, have seemed to taper off at Boswell. 

Penelope Lively is one of those authors that every so often has popped for us big in paperback at Schwartz. It happened with both The Photograph and Consequences. I remember my Penguin rep and I were so shocked by the former (I think our sale ran to several hundred copies) that Penguin sent out a national memo. Well, this phenomenon was apparently not limited to Schwartz. After only selling 7 copies of Family Album in papeback, we've more than tripled that with How it All Began in just a few weeks, though I'll admit that our hardcover sales of the new book were also much stronger. It's just that in these times, literary books in paperback don't sell multiples of the hardcover, unless it becomes a phenomenon of some sort, like winning a big prize, or begin cut off from its natural year-end sales with a quickie paperback release (not that I'm bitter).

As Downton Abbey approaches, I should note the sales pop for The House at Tyneford. Jane has the novel on her rec shelf, and we've got our small Downton Abbey table up in the middle of the store with it featured there as well. Jane's pretty insistent that if you can't get enough of the show, reading Natasha Solomons is a good temporary fix until January 6. Oh, and it also works for folks who like Kate Morton. Jane's getting Jason and me a complete list of what else everyone should read, but for now, I've found some official tie ins that are already selling. Our copy of Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey was sold off the table in about two days.

Paperback nonfiction:
1. In the Garden of Beasts, by Erik Larson (#4 NYT)
2. Team of Rivals, by Doris Kearns Goodwin (#2 NYT)
3. Unlikely Friendships, by Jennifer Holland (#6 NYT)
4. Memoir of the Sunday Brunch, by Julia Pandl
5. How to Tell if Your Cat is Plotting to Kill You, by The Oatmeal (#1 miscellaneous)
6. F for Effort, by Richard Benson (#9 NYT)
7. The Swerve, by Stephen Greenblatt (#21 NYT)
8. Schuster's and Gimbels, by Paul Geenen
9. Turing's Cathedral, by George Dyson
10. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot (#9 NYT)
11. How to be a Woman, by Caitlin Moran (#31 NYT)
12. Milwaukee Mafia, by Gavin Schmitt
13. Catherine the Great, by Robert K. Massie (#25 NYT)
14. Dancers Among Us, by Jordan Matter (#13 NYT)
15. Citizens of London, by Lynne Olson

The Olson book has been popping from a lecture recommendation while I am suspecting that Turing's Cathedral: The Origins of the Digital Universe is popping because there's something fresh on the front table. We were noting that this time of year, the books tend to be static for about a month. Booklist noted: "Many sweeping histories of the computer revolution have already been written, tracing the origins of today's digital landscape back to the ancient Sumerian abacus, yet few are as thorough as this fascinating account from science-historian Dyson"And here's William Poundstone's enthusiastic review in The New York Times Book Review.

Books for children:
1. The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green (#2 NYT young adult)
2. Who Could That be at This Hour?, by Lemony Snicket (#4 NYT middle grade)
3. Santa Claus is Coming to Wisconsin, by Robert Dunn, Steve Smallwood, Kathine Kirkland
4. Wildwood, by Colin Meloy
5. Good Night Wisconsin, by Adam Gamble and Mark Jasper
6. I am a Bunny, by Ole Risom
7. A Wrinkle in Time Graphic Novel, by Madeline L'Engle and Hope Larson
8. Snow, by Uri Shelvitz
9. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Third Wheel, by Jeff Kinney (#1 NYT series)
10. Safari, by Dan Kainen
11. This is not my Hat, by Jon Klassen (#10 NYT picture)
12. The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, by William Joyce
13. Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site, by Sherry Duskey Rinker (#1 NYT picture)
14. The Composer is Dead, by Lemony Snicket
15. Under Wildwood, by Colin Meloy

On the children's NYT bestseller lists, hardcover competes with paperback and middle grade fiction competes with Lego and Justin Bieber, making the judgment that age range is more important. I have found that the hard-soft divide matters little among kids' books as kids move from hardcover picture books to paperback chapter books to a mix of middle and young adult, and what book type are board books anyway? 

In the Journal Sentinel book page are three reviews. Seth Lerer of the San Francisco Chronicle contemplates Philip Pullman's Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm, Gregory Leon Miller (also from the Chronicle) ponders Philip Hensher's The Missing Ink: The Lost Art of Handwriting, and Tish Wells is absorbed by (that's quite a word picture) Ross King's Leonardo and the Last Supper. I wanted to say what paper she was at, but she actually works for the Washington Bureau of McClachy Newspapers.

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