Sunday, December 28, 2014

What's Selling at Boswell for This Week Ending 12/27/14? Runaway Bestellers from Doerr, Kondo and Brown, but Lots to Talk About in All Categories.

Hardcover Fiction:
1. All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr
2. Lila, by Marilynne Robinson
3. Redeployment, by Phil Klay
4. Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, by Haruki Murakami
5. Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel
6. All My Puny Sorrows, by Miriam Toews
7. The Bone Clocks, by David Mitchell
8. The Paying Guests, by Sarah Waters
9. Family Furnishings, by Alice Munro
10. A Brief History of Seven Killings, by Marlon James

If you've been under a log, it turns out that Anthony Doerr's novel All the Light We Cannot See is a hit. Alexandra Alter gets the story behind the story in The New York Times. Note: I have to find an image of the cover with all the "medals" on it. I was also thrilled to see Station Eleven get back on The New York Times printed top 15. But I should note that the real winner is Penguin Random House, who has seven of the top 10. Knopf has 3, Riverhead 2, Penguin Press and Little Random House each have one.

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo
2. Being Mortal, by Atul Gawande
3. Deep Down Dark, by Héctor Tobar
4. Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant, by Roz Chast
5. David and Goliath, by Malcolm Gladwell
6. Yes Please, by Amy Poehler
7. Great Maps, by Jerry Brotton
8. What If, by Randall Munroe
9. Milwaukee Then and Now, by Sandra Ackerman
10. Make it Ahead, by Ina Garton

While PRH doesn't rule this list the way they do fiction, it is bookended by hits from the Crown division. Three hits are from Macmillan, with one title each from FSG (Tobar), Holt (Gawande) and the distributed Bloomsbury (Chast). If you thought the Amazon boycott didn't hurt Hachette, think again. I think they found it particularly hard to break out books this fall--I noticed that aside from You Are Here, which had a strong post-event sale, our biggest hardcovers were from 2013, from Malcolm Gladwell and Donna Tartt.

Paperback Fiction:
1. Best American Short Stories 2014, co-edited by Jennifer Egan
2. The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman
3. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, by Gabrielle Zevin
4. The Strange Library, by Haruki Murakami
5. The Circle, by Dave Eggers
6. Dept. of Speculation, by Jenny Offill
7. Still Life with Bread Crumbs, by Anna Quindlen
8. The Orphan Master's Son, by Adam Johnson
9. Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
10. What the Lady Wants, by Renée Rosen

The new Best American Short Stories 2014 may be at the top but unlike many of our other categories (hardcover fiction and nonfiction, paperback nonfiction), it's not a runaway bestseller. In fact, it's trailing 2013 for us. It's sometimes a function of the editor, but I think in this case, the new packaging might have a role. And once again, PRH has 7 of the top 10 bestsellers, but this time Knopf is more in the lead with four. I'm wondering if "The Interview" incident might be helping sales of The Orphan Master's Son.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. The Boys in the Boat, by Daniel James Brown
2. Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand
3. Wild, by Cheryl Strayed
4. Eat Bacon, Don't Jog, by Grant Petersen
5. How to Eat, by Thich Nhat Hanh
6. A History of the World in 12 Maps, by Jerry Brotton
7. This is the Story of a Happy Marriage, by Ann Patchett
8. How to Sit, by Thich Nhat Hanh
9. Studying Wisconsin, by Martha Bergland and Paul Hayes
10. Milwaukee Rock and Roll, by Larry Widen

It wasn't too long ago that you didn't know who Jerry Brotton was, but with two books on our bestseller list (Great Maps, our bestselling DK book in a long time, and A History of the World in 12 Maps), you now can't forget this BBC host and professor at Queen Mary University of London. And now here's something unusual--our top 3 matches The New York Times top three for this category on the December 21 list, only not in the same order--Unbroken, The Boys in the Boat, Wild. You just can't top a movie tie-in in the mass market, especially one that outperforms the pundits.

Books for Kids
1. Diary of a Wimpy Kid 9: The Long Haul, by Jeff Kinney
2. Once Upon an Alphabet, by Oliver Jeffers
3. Nuts to You, by Lynne Rae Perkins
4. Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms, by Katherine Rundell
5. Animalium, curated by Jenny Broom and Katie Scott
6. The Book with No Pictures, by B.J. Novak
7. The Glass Sentence, by S.E. Grove
8. The Latke who Couldn't Stop Screaming, by Lemony Snicket
9. I'll Give You the Sun, by Jandy Nelson
10. The Accidental Highwayman, by Ben Tripp

Hey Amie, I was talking to a librarian yesterday who said that Nuts to You had Newbery Medal buzz. I guess that's not a stretch, since Perkins has previously won the honor. But this novel about two squirrels who try to save their friend from a hawk is certainly her bestselling hardcover since Boswell has been open and according to my very old records, has substantially outperformed her Newbery winner Criss Cross from 2005 at this store when it was a Schwartz (though probably not the Shorewood location, from which we picked up a lot of the kids' business). And speaking of beating old books, Katherine Rundell's Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms has already surpassed Rooftoppers in hardcover sales and still has some momentum.

On the older YA front (our teen section, as they called it when our section was rebranded many years ago), Jandy Nelson's I'll Give You the Sun is well outperforming her previous novel, The Sky is Everywhere, at least with us, but when I looked at Treeline, I can safely say that this is the case in many bookstores. This was one of Phoebe's picks in our holiday newsletter.

In the Journal Sentinel, Jim Higgins rounds up regional favorites:
a. Pabst Farms, by John Eastberg (event on December 30)
b. The Widows' Handbook, edited by Jacqueline Lapidus and Lise Menn
c. Dispatches from the Drownings, by B.J. Hollars
d. The Milwaukee Bucket List, by Barbara Ali
e. Badger Sate Buddies, by Noreen O'Brien

On the Pabst Farms book (our event is Tuesday!): "Eastberg's book also serves as a fascinating case study of a brewery that survived prohibition; among other revenue streams, Fred Pabst Jr. and brewery chemist Alfred J. Schedler created Pabst-ett, an aged processed cheese spread often described as similar to Velveeta."

Plus there's a review of the holiday hit, When Books Went to War, by Molly Guptill Manning. It's "the fascinating story of how the military teamed up with New York publishers to bring books to the troops in the field." The review was originally in Newsday and appears in today's Tap section of the print edition. You'd think that this book would resonate with our customer and in fact, we had a very good December with it. It's unusual for a book like this to release December 2; hoping momentum continues into the new year.

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