The first week of April was a big one for the industry last year, a spike that resulted in print units sold through outlets that report to Nielsen BookScan falling by 16% in the week ended April 7, 2013 compared to a year ago. In the week ended April 8, 2012, seven books had sales higher than the 33,000 copies that the top-selling book last week, The Best of Me, generated. Three events led to the sales surge last year, none more important than the release of The Hunger Games film in late March, a release that resulted in the sale of about 750,000 copies of Hunger Games titles in different print formats. The bestseller that week was Catching Fire which sold about 227,000 print copies through outlets that report to BookScan with sales of The Hunger Games and Mockingjay not too far behind.
Those three titles beat out a new book on the list last year—Fifty Shades of Grey debuted on the April 8, 2012 list at #4 with about 134,000 copies sold via outlets that report to BookScan. The Shades phenomenon was just beginning to pick up steam last April as the first title was followed by the release of two more books.
Also contributing to the strong sales week a year ago was Easter, which came later than in 2013 and which led to healthy sales of juvenile nonfiction titles. The question moving forward is will any title emerge that can remotely compare to the success of Shades this year and prevent a spring and summer filled with down comparisons.