Sunday, May 11, 2014

Thank You, Mother, for a Pop in Sales Which is Almost Like Christmas, but Not the Week Before Christmas: Boswell Bestsellers.

Hardccover Nonfiction:
1. The Keillor Reader, by Garrison Keillor
2. Girlboss, by Sophia Amoruso
3. Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant, by Roz Chast
4. Good Stock, by Sanford D'Amato
5. Capital in the 21st Century, by Thomas Piketty

Don't talk to me about Thomas Piketty, though we are glad to note that our shipments have started arriving and we can finally fulfill orders. No, the real story about demand for me was Roz Chast's Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant? We haven't had walk-in sales like that since...Thomas Piketty. Scrap that. We haven't had walk-in sales on a book we could actually fulfill all year, or at least, that's what it feels like. In fact, our sales are 50% higher than the best week of the previous non-event hardcover sales books of 2014, The Goldfinch, The Invention of Wings, and Flash Boys, though the first two were at that number for a good number of weeks. Could it be the visual component that works better in print? The good pricing? Or perhaps that a whole mess of our customers have or have gone through caring for aging parents?

And Sue Monk Kidd almost doesn't count, because it was an event; we co-hosted her at the Milwaukee Public Library and a lot of folks moved their purchases to us because they were planning to attend the event.

Hardcover Fiction:
1. Magnificent Vibration, by Rick Springfield
2. In Liberty's Name, Eva Rumpf
3. The Goldinch, by Donna Tartt
4. All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr
5. The Confabulist, by Steven Galloway

Most of Rick Springfield's tour is over, but you can still see him at Changing Hands in Tempe (Phoenix) on May 16. At one time, one of The Boswellians dated his niece, or something like that. The big story in breakouts is that nice first week of sales pop for All the Light We Cannot See, the #1 Indie Next Pick for May and a favorite of both Conrad and Sharon. Scribner has been working Doerr for years; it's great to see a publisher's patience pay off. Here's the USA Today review.

Paperback Fiction:
1. Saving Kandinsky, by Mary Basson
2. The Old Neighborhood, by Bill Hillman
3. The Interestings, by Meg Wolitzer
4. Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn
5. Tiger Claw, by Shauna Singh Baldwin

We had a good time with Peetie Basson on Thursday and Bill Hillman and Friday (as well as Eva Augustin Rumpf and Steven Galloway, who are perched on the hardcover bestseller lists above). But nobody else brought a tricked-out low rider bicycle, so Jannis, Jen, Mel, and I posed with one for The Old Neighborhood event, which we just learned is the first volume of a trilogy. One of our attendees was Dasha Kelly, whose own novel is scheduled to be published with Curbside Splendor next spring.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. How Can it Be Gluten Free, by America's Test Kitchen
2. Elizabeth The Queen, by Sally Bedell Smith
3. All God's Dangers, by Theodore Rosengarten
4. Empty Mansions, by Bill Dedman
5. Behind the Beautiful Forevers, by Katherine Boo

If you saw our full reported list that we send out to our sales reps and the like, you'd see that when it comes to sales ratios, hardcover skews nonfiction for bestsellers but paperback skews fiction. We probably have six times as many fiction titles that sold what our top three in nonfiction sold. I'm hoping to get up a regional table for the summer which might pop more titles, what with our very, very, very minor tourism season coming up. We can thank Barbara Rinella for several of this week's top titles, most notably Sally Bedell Smith's Elizabeth the Queen.

Books for Kids:
1. It's an Orange Aardvark, by Michael Hall
2. Cat Tale, by Michael Hall
3. Perfect Square, by Michael Hall
4. Divergent, by Veronica Roth
5. The Day the Crayons Quit, by Drew Daywalt, with illustrations by Oliver Jeffers (Yes, also a Rinella rec)

It was all about Michael Hall this week, a wonderful author-illustrator who has been compared to Eric Carle and our own Lois Ehlert. It's our esimate that in one day, Mr. Hall reached over 600 kids to tell them about It's an Orange Aardvark. We've got just one more school event this season, with Tony DiTerlizzi this coming Tuesday (May 13). In the evening, we'll have a special event at Boswell, featuring worm-laden dirt cupcakes, in celebration of The Battle for WondLa. If you are interested in having your school participate in our 2014-2015 author visit programming, please contact Jannis.

In the Journal Sentinel, Mike Ficher reviews Peter Heller's new novel, The Painter. "What do you get when you cross Ernest Hemingway and Jackson Pollock? Something like white-bearded Jim Stegner, the 45-year-old man's man of an artist at the heart of The Painter, Peter Heller's entertaining new novel," he writes.

Also at the Journal Sentinel, Chris Foran reviews the new novel from Joshua Ferris, who is coming to Boswell on Monday, May 19, 7 pm. He notes, "To Rise Again at a Decent Hour is not a hopeful or happy book, and, unlike his 2007 debut novel, Then We Came to the End,its sense of humor is mordant, not mirthful. But thanks to the faith Ferris has in the sincerity of his character's journey, you find yourself rooting for Paul to find his way, even if it takes someone to pose as him on Twitter for him to realize just how lost he was."

Earlier in the week, Mary Louise Schumacher in her Art City column reviewed The Big Tiny from Dee Williams. She found it even more enjoyable than she'd hoped. "What I didn't expect was a delightful encounter with the Tina Fey of the sustainability world, an empowered woman unafraid to admit she accidentally glued her hair to her house, as well as an incisive thinker on contemporary experience. I didn't expect a hilarious and poignant memoir that would unpack the meaning of consumerism, neighborhoods, art, grief and the fate of one's own waste, among lots of other things."

Back to today (Sunday), an author best remembered for Parallel Lives, Phyllis Rose returns to writing about writers in The Shelf. JS Book editor Jim Higgins is enthusiastic: "The unceasing flow of books published each year could make anyone who works with them — librarians, booksellers, reviewers — wonder how many good ones we're missing. Phyllis Rose tackles this question head-on in her smart, entertaining and generous new book, The Shelf: Adventures in Extreme Reading: From LEQ to LES."

No comments: