Posts Tagged ‘bestsellers’

Book Publishing By the Numbers 2: Paperback Bestsellers

April 3, 2011

 Adult paperback books have traditionally been treated as two separate categories. “Mass market paperbacks” are usually rack sized pocket books that you see in the grocery and mass market outlets. They have been declining as a genre for many years now.  Trade paperbacks are larger format books. You see them on the bookshelves and front tables of bookstores. This year there have been declines as well, probably attributable, as all else in publishing, to the growth of e-books.  Here are the bestselling paperbacks for 2010 along with their estimated domestic sales for the year.  I’m combining the two categories together for simplicity sake. Some of the books (Stieg Larsson, for instance) are in both trade and mass. I’ve lumped the sales together.


 Adult paperback  bestsellers


The Girl With the Dragoon Tattoo, Stieg Larsson, 6,114,964

The Girl Who Played With Fire, Stieg Larsson, 4,827,738

The Last Song, Nicholas Sparks, 2,784,275

Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert,2,153,835

The Lost Symbol, Dan Brown, 2,367,052

Ford County, John Grisham, 1,050,000

Little Bee, Chris Cleve, 1,045,000

Finger Lickin’ Fifteen, Janet Evanovich, 1,045,363

Pirate Latitude, Robert Crichton, 986,990

Breathless, Dean Koontz, 948,000

I, Alex Cross, James Patterson, 927,681

One Night, Debbie, McComber, 901,618

Happy Ever After, Nora Roberts, 900,000

Alex Cross’ Trial, James Patterson, 872,000

Live To Tell, Lisa Gardner, 872,000

A few things you might notice. What I find most surprising is that there is only one non-fiction book on the list, Eat, Pray, Love. Of course, it’s been on the list for years now. The second bestselling non-fiction book is Three Cups of Tea with sales of 450,000. It’s pretty far down the list (into the 50’s). And after that, The Blind Side: The Evolution of the Game  by Michael Lewis, (408,323).

The one thing that is not surprising is the dominance of highly commercial brand name fiction.  The same is true of the hardback bestsellers as well.  If you go further down the list though, you will find books by such well-regarded literary figures as: Harper Lee (yes, To Kill a Mockingbird! #20!), Abraham Verghese, Charles Dickens (thanks, Oprah!), and Kazuo Ishiguro. Literary snoots no doubt will see this list as another example of the decline of literary values in the Internet age. They are probably right, but not because of this list. If you go back twenty years and look at the list, you aren’t likely to find The collected works of Thomas Mann either.


Book Publishing by the Numbers: 2010 Best Selling Books

March 27, 2011


And the winner is......


Publishers Weekly just released its list of the bestselling books for 2010. Here is the list of the top 10 Hardbacks in fiction and nonfiction along with sales estimates for the year. (Disclaimer. The sales are for the year 2010 for domestic sales of  hardback books only. E-book sales are not included. Nor are international sales.)



The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, Stieg Larsson, 1,900,000

The Confession, John Grisham, 1,360,000

The Help, Kathryn Stockett, 1,317,397

Safe Haven, Nicholas Sparks, 929,397

Dead or Alive, Tom Clancy, 921,358

Sizzling Sixteen, Janet Evanovich, 903,000

Cross Fire, James Patterson, 902,906

Freedom,  Jonathan Franzen, 761,701

Port Mortuary, Patricia Cornwell, 700,000

Full Dark, No Stars, Stephen King, 675,000

As usual, this list is very heavy on name brand commercial authors. ( If you are a literary snoot, one might even call some of these “franchises”. ) If you look at the 20 runner up titles, you will see that there are 5 more books by James Patterson and a co-author. This is sort of a dead giveaway that Patterson probably has little to do with the book other than providing his name as a marketing tool. Other authors who are perennial bestselling authors  on the 20 book runner-ups are: Janet Evanovich (who also has book #6 above), Vince Flynn, David Baldacci, Nora Roberts, Clive Cussler, Robert Jordan, and Lee Child.


Decision Points, George W. Bush, 2,653,565

Broke: The Plan to Restore Our Trust, Truth, and Treasure, Glenn Beck, 860,002

Women, Food and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything,  Geneen Roth, 850,000

Life, Keith Richards, 811,596

America By Heart:  Reflections on Family, Faith and Flag, Sarah Palin

The Daily Show Presents Earth, Jon Stewart, 782,871

Sh*t My Dad Says, Justin Halpern, 761,000

Barefoot Contessa How Easy Is That?, Ina Garten, 722,608

Pinheads and Patriots: Where You Stand in the Age of Obama, Bill O’Reilly, 662,950

Chelsea, Chelsea Bang Bang, Chelsea Handler, 653,321

As usual, public figures (usually conservative) top the list. Last year the best selling non-fiction book was Sarah Palin’s selling 2,600,000 copies. Glenn Beck and Bill O’reilly seem to reliably make the top ten every year. They are offset, just barely, by Jon Stewart far back in the pack.