Sunday, December 29, 2013

Sunday Bestseller Post--Bookseller Handselling Rivalries, Author Friendships, Comic Book Bar Charts, Plus Worries About One University Press Disappointment.

Paperback Fiction:
1. The President's Hat, by Antoine Laurain
2. Dear Life, by Alice Munro
3. Where'd You Go, Bernadette?, by Maria Semple
4. Beautiful Ruins, by Jess Walter
5. The Orphan Master's Son, by Adam Johnson
6. The Dinner, by Herman Koch
7. Telegraph Avenue, by Michael Chabon
8. Me Before You, by Jojo Moyes
9. Reconstructing Amelia, by Kimberly McCreight
10. Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore, by Robin Sloan

I wanted to flip the hardcovers and paperbacks this week so that Antoine Laurain could wish you a Joyeux Noël! The great year on a book like this is that from my experience, there's a strong second year of sale. By the holidays, folks have started coming in asking for the book without our recommendations, and I think the word of mouth will be strong enough to generate its own sales, as long as we keep it well displayed.

I was noting an amusing coincidence regarding Michael Chabon's Telegraph Avenue. I thought sales had lagged behind The Yiddish Policeman's Union, but it turns out they have sold exactly the same number of copies at this Downer Avenue bookstore in hardcover, 94! What's even stranger is that we have also sold exactly 94 copies of the paperback of The Yiddish Policeman's Union. We've got a ways to go with the paperback of Telegraph Avenue, but based on its momentum, it could happen. Note that the paperback looks a lot like the e-book jackets for Chabon's backlist.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Hyperbole and a Half, by Allie Brosh
2. Chronicles of Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin, by Thomas Fehring
3. Super Graphic, by Tim Leong
4. Long Walk to Freedom, by Nelson Mandela
5. Why Grizzly Bears Should wear Underpants, by The Oatmeal
6. Proof of Heaven, by Eben Alexander
7. Milwaukee's Town of Lake, by Ron Winkler
8. Best American Infographics 2013, edited by David Byrne
9. Monkey Mind, by Daniel Smith
10. Quiet, by Susan Cain

Interestingly enough, infographics are represented by two books in our top ten. Our sales on Super Graphic have been growing steadily over the holidays and Tim Leong,the design director at Fortune Magazine, uses pie charts, bar graphs, and other infographics to give insights into your favorite comics and graphic novels. Here's his Tumblr site and here is an interview with Leong in a Los Angeles Times blog.

Hardcover Fiction:
1. The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt
2. The Luminaries, by Eleanor Catton
3. Dog Songs, by Mary Oliver
4. Tenth of December, by George Saunders
5. Aimless Love, by Billy Collins
6. The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman
7. The Illusion of Separateness, by Simon Van Booy
8. The Good Lord Bird, by James McBride
9. Hild, by Nicola Griffith
10. TransAtlantic, by Colum McCann

It's nice to see the Van Booy-McCann sales rivalry from last summer heat up again for the holidays. It's also nice to see a book from last January like George Saunders get the hardcover holiday pop it deserved. The paperback is due on January 7 with only minor cover changes (the black is now blue, plus an accolades seal). Honestly, being Random House Publishing Group, we thought they'd delay the paperback release.

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. The Bully Pulpit, by Doris Kearns Goodwin
2. Good Stock, by Sanford D'Amato
3. Things That Matter, by Charles Krauthammer
4. I am Malala, by Malala Yousafzai
5. Knitting Yarns, edited by Ann Hood
6. 1227 Quite Interesting Facts to Blow Your Socks Off, by John Lloyd, John Mitchinson, and James Harkin
7. This is the Story of a Happy Marriage, by Ann Patchett
8. The Unwinding, by George Packer
9. The Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 2
10. The Heart of the Plate, by Mollie Katzen

Congrats to W.W. Norton, who had two of our left-field holiday hits, 1227 Quite Interesting Facts to Blow Your Socks Off and Knitting Yarns. It's hard to make trivia books and anthologies stand out as the fields are so crowded, but both of these wound up working very well.

Jason also noted that  The Autobiography of Mark Twain Volume 2 under-performed volume 1, and we wondered how many stores took very large positions on it. I am impressed that Jason took a comparatively modest number (15), giving us a solid sell through. I would have probably overbought this big time. I'm a little worried about this, as university presses seem under a lot of financial pressure.

Books for Kids:
1. Diary of a Wimpy Kid Volume 8: Hard Luck, by Jeff Kinney
2. The Day the Crayons Quit, by Drew Daywalt with illustrations by Oliver Jeffers
3. Jumping Penguins, by Jesse Goossens and Marije Tolman
4. Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Little Golden Book, by Diane Muldrow
5. Almost an Animal Alphabet, by Katie Viggers
6. Counting by 7s, by Holly Goldberg Sloan
7. The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak
8. Flora and Ulysses, by Kate DiCamillo
9. Steam Train, Dream Train, by Sherri Duskey Rinker with illustrations by Tom Lichtenheld
10. Fortunately the Milk, by Neil Gaiman with illustrations by Skottie Young
11. The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green
12. The Journey, by Aaron Becker
13. Wonder, by R.J. Palacio
14. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, by Ransom Riggs
15. Divergent, by Veroinica Roth

One of our avid younger Friends of Boswell came in to get excited that the second Ransom Riggs novel, Hollow City, comes out on January 14. She noted that the two authors went to college together. Apparently they are closer than that--according to this piece in Mental Floss from almost two years ago (it takes a while to digest these things), they were in a sketch comedy group together and also both wrote for Mental Floss, of course.

In the Journal Sentinel, Jim Higgins looks at The Trip to Echo Spring: On Writers and Drinking by Olivia Laing. He calls the book "remarkable," noting that "Until Echo Spring, I'd never read a writer who bridged both worlds (writers and recovery) with such intelligence, grace, and thoughtfulness."

Originally from the Los Angeles Times and reprinted in our print edtion, Carolyn Kellogg reviews Inside the Dream Palace: The Life and Times of New York's Legendary Chelsea Hotel. "It is the outrageous stories of the Chelsea that makes it so appealing", observes Kellogg. But the chapter may have closed on its craziness with the latest plans for renovation. Perhaps they could move the building to someplace in Brooklyn?

From Chris Vognar in the Dallas Morning News comes a review reprinted in the print edition of the Journal Sentinel of James Wolcott's Critical Mass: Four Decades of Essays, Reviews, Hand Grenades, and Hurrahs. Vognar notes that its hard for a critic to not think "I wish I had writtren that sentence" when reading Wolcott. He's "a power hitter who swings for the upper deck"who "argues his case with vigor and wit."

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