Sunday, December 21, 2014

It's What Retailers Dream About--The Best Week of the Year for Sales. Boswell's Annotated Bestsellers, Week Ending December 20, 2014

We'll probably have our best day for sales early next week but being that there are no sales on the 25th, and the days after that are more like good Saturdays, this is generally our best week of non-event sales for the year. It's the time when folks let loose, and here's what they chose.

Hardcover Fiction:
1. All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr
2. Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel
3. Redeployment, by Phil Klay
4. The Bone Clocks, by David Mitchell
5. The Paying Guests, by Sarah Waters
6. Lila, by Marilynne Robinson
7. Euphoria, by Lily King
8. Family Furnishings, by Alice Munro
9. The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt
10. Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, by Haruki Murakami
11. Family Life, by Akhil Sharma
12. Some Luck, by Jane Smiley
13. The Slow Regard of Silent Things, by Patrick Rothfuss
14. A Brief History of Seven Killings, by Marlon James
15. The Invention of Wings, by Sue Monk Kidd
16. The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher, by Hilary Mantel
17. The Narrow Road to the Deep North, by Richard Flanagan
18. The Boston Girl, by Anita Diamant
19. Shotgun Lovesongs, by Nickolas Butler
20. The Children Act, by Ian McEwan

I find it rather daring that Anita Diamant's The Boston Girl was released on December 9. While Red Tent was a phenomenon, her subsequent books have been review driven, and it strikes me that a lot of media takes a holiday in December, focusing more on year-end roundups. Laura Albritton in The Miami Herald writes: "The Boston Girl convincingly traces the story of a scrappy, intelligent immigrant, who does more than merely survive the 20th century; she embraces it all — tragedies, joys, and the humdrum — with unflagging passion. But I think the main reason for this December drop is that this is when The Red Tent was premiering on Lifetime.

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. What If?, by Randall Munroe
2. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo
3. Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?, by Roz Chast
4. Yes Please, by Amy Poehler
5. Being Mortal, by Atul Gawande
6. You are Here, by Chris Hadfield
7. Deep Down Dark, by Héctor Tobar
8. Small Victories, by Anne Lamott
9. Make it Ahead, by Ina Garten
10. 1339 Quite Interesting Facts to Make Your Jaw Drop, by John Lloyd
11. Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Little Golden Book, by Diane Muldrow
12. Pabst Farms, by John C. Eastberg
13. The Sixth Extinction, by Elizabeth Kolbert
14. This Changes Everything, by Naomi Klein
15. David and Goliath, by Malcolm Gladwell
16. When Books Went to War, Molly Guptil Manning
17. Great Maps, by Jerry Brotton
18. Killing Patton, by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard
19. Not that Kind of Girl, by Lena Dunham
20. Everything I Need to Know About Christmas I Learned from a Little Golden Book, by Diane Muldrow
21. The Secret History of Wonder Woman, by Jill Lepore
22. Thirteen Days in September, by Lawrence Wright
23. Milwaukee Then and Now, by Sandra Ackerman
24. Penelope Fitzgerald, by Hermione Lee
25. The History of Rock n Roll in Ten Songs, by Greil Marcus

Because all in all, this category had our best numbers, it is extended to 25 titles, which gets it to about the same volume at the bottom rungs as the other lists did in 15-20 books. It's interesting to me that the list is not very regional, side from Pabst Farms (Eastberg speaks at Boswell on December 30) and the new edition of Milwaukee Then and Now. Aside from them, this list could be from an indie bookstore anywhere, and a glance at the fiction list shows even less local variation.At least the paperback fiction list below has What the Lady Wants, which has most of the momentum in the Chicago area. And nonfiction paperback has three local titles, two of which were self-published.

Paperback Fiction:
1. The Strange Library, by Haruki Murakami
2. The Martian, by Andy Weir
3. The Illusion of Separateness, by Simon Van Booy
4. What the Lady Wants, by Renée Rosen
5. Someone, by Alice McDermott
6. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, by Gabrielle Zevin
7. Bark, by Lorrie Moore
8. Dept. of Speculation, by Jenny Offill
9. Best American Short Stories 2014, edited by Jennifer Egan
10. A Child's Christmas in Wales, by Dylan Thomas
11. Americanah, by Chimananda Ngozi Adichie
12. Burial Rites, by Hannah Kent
13. Song of the Shank, by Jeffery Renard Allen
14. Ordinary Grace, by William Kent Krueger
15. I am Pilgrim, by Terry Hayes
16. Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn
17. Tenth of December, by George Saunders
18. The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman
19. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, by Karen Joy Fowler
20. Me Before You, by Jojo Moyes

There's been some confusion about Haruki Murakami's The Strange Library, starting with how did it go from the top of our bestseller list to off entirely to #1? It turns out it really was just a lull in sales; we were not out of stock, nor was it hidden away on a display table with bad traffic. More confusion ensued over whether it was a hardcover or paperback (I've seen it listed as both) whereas it's definitely a boxed paperback, and as it is a paperback, whether the imprint on the book is really Knopf, and it is, not Vintage. Meanwhile, more about the book in the Washington Post review from Joseph Peschel.

After a couple of weeks of slow start, Alice McDermott's Someone really started in popping in paperback for us, which might be some residue from her hardcover visit. We've already done triple the sales of our paperback history with her last book, After This, but that might not be a fair comparison, because our hardcover sales were something like eight times the sales of the 2008 release at the Downer Schwartz. As is the case for the hardcover lists, you can really see the effect of the best-of lists. The Martian, Dept. of Speculation, and Song of the Shank showed up in major top tens and there's no doubt that I am Pilgrim's momentum is also being helped by Carole Barrowman's call out. It's certainly become my go-to thriller.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. The Boys in the Boat, by Daniel James Brown
2. Eat Bacon, Don't Jog, by Grant Petersen
3. Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand
4. The Emotional Life of Your Brain, by Richard Davidson
5. Wild, by Cheryl Strayed
6. Claudia: Misguided Spirit, by Pamela Frautschi
7. How to Sit, by Thich Nhat Hanh
8. Bad Feminist, by Roxane Gay
9. Holidays on Ice, by David Sedaris
10. How to Eat, by Thich Nhat Hanh
11. Milwaukee Bucket List, by Barbara Ali
12. The Heart of Everything That Is, by Bob Drury and Tom Clavin
13. The Year of Reading Dangerously, by Andy Miller
14. Best American Science and Nature Writing 2014, edited by Deborah Blum
15. Studying Wisconsin, by Martha Bergland and Paul G. Hayes
16. The Death of Santini, by Pat Conroy
17. This is the Story of a Happy Marriage, by Ann Patchett
18. Hickory Daiquiri Dock, by Tim Federle (I'm on the fence about book type for this one)
19. Paddle Your Own Canoe, by Nick Offerman
20. Assholes, by Aaron James

Nick Offerman's Paddle Your Own Canoe has had steady paperback sales for us and with the increase of sales this week allowing for us digging a little deeper into the lists, it gets its moment in the sun on the Boswell and Books blog. I noticed it's out of stock at wholesalers, meaning it's working just fine everywhere. Being that every comic actor seems to have a book out, I sometimes wonder why one pops, but I guess that it's partly the momentum of Amy Poehler's Yes Please and the anticipation of Parks and Recreation's last season, which I'm sure you know is going to be set in 2017, after Leslie Knope has had triplets.

Books for Kids, Up to About Age 8:
1. Before After, Matthias Arégui and Anne-Margot Ramstein
2. The Snowy Day board book, by Ezra Jack Keats
3. Sam and Dave Dig a Hole, by Mac Barnett, with illustrations by Jon Klassen
4. The Day the Crayons Quit, by Drew Daywalt, with illustrations by Oliver Jeffers
5. Countablock, by Christopher Franceschelli, with graphics by Peskimo
6. I am a Bunny, by Ole Risom, with illustrations by Richard Scarry 7. The Book with No Pictures, by B.J. Novak
8. Hush Little Polar Bear board book, by Jeff Mack
9. The Mitten board book, by Jan Brett
10. Have You Seen my Dragon?, by Steve Light
11. The Polar Express, by Chris Van Allsburg
12. Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site, by Sherri Duskey Rinker, with illustrations by Tom Lichenheld
13. My Happy Life, by Rose Lagercrantz, with illustrations by Eva Eriksson
14. Little Blue Truck's Christmas board book, by Alice Schertle
15. Princess in Black, by Shannon and Dean Hale, with illustrations by LeUyen Pham

We had a great time with Shannon Hale earlier this year, where she promised that her first early reader book was coming out this fall, and sure enough, Princess in Black been a hit at Boswell. From her profile in The Deseret News: “We know from our own children, our daughters are just as likely to be dressed as princesses and having a tea party as they are picking up toy swords and attacking monsters,”

Books for Kids Over About 8:
1. Animalium, curated by Jenny Broom and Katie Scott
2. Brown Girl Dreaming, by Jacqueline Woodson
3. The Glass Sentence, by S.E. Grove
4. The Fourteenth Goldfish, by Jennifer Holm
5. 365 Days of Wonder, by R.J. Palacio
6. Diary of a Wimpy Kid 9: The Long Haul, by Jeff Kinney
7. A Christmas Memory (with CD), by Truman Capote
8. Rooftoppers, by Katherine Rundell
9. Wonder, by R.J. Palacio
10. Absolutely Truly, by Heather Vogel Frederick
11. Percy Jackson's Greek Gods, by Rick Riordan, with illustrations by John Rocco
12. The Latke who Couldn't Stop Screaming, by Lemony Snicket
13. Sidekicked, by John David Anderson
14. Eleanor and Park, by Rainbow Rowell
15. Skink: No Surrender, by Carl Hiaasen

One book we had modest sales on upon release which has had a great pop from being in our holiday catalog is Jennifer Holm's The Fourteenth Goldfish. It's about a young girl who gets a new classmate, who seems strangely similar to her Grandfather Melvin, a bit bossy and cranky. Monica Edinger in The New York Times Book Review writes: "Youth, old age, life, death, love, possibilities and — oh yes — goldfish all come together in this warm, witty and wise novel."

From the Journal Sentinel, Jim Higgins reviews Cory Doctorow's Information Doesn't Want to be Free: Laws for the Internet Age. He notes: "A longtime electronic rights activist, Doctorow reiterates and expands on themes in "Information" that he has been writing about for years. He sums them up in Doctorow's Three Laws (a playful bit of acknowledged homage to sci-fi predecessor Arthur C. Clarke)" which you'll have to link to in order to find out what they are.

From Anne Schamberg in the Fresh section, Elliot Lipchick's A Toast to Twelve Poets "is a kind of thought experiment, in which Lipchik — a retired professor of radiology at the Medical College of Wisconsin — writes a brief biography about each of the scribes. What's unique here is that spirited beverages are used to reveal something about each poet's style."

In the print edition, a round-up rom the Seattle Times, Mary Ann Gwinn offers eight books for bird lovers. And from the Los Angeles Times, Randall Roberts reviews Viv Albertine's Clothes, Clothes Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys.

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