Patterson’s Busy Year: Cross My Heart Is James Patterson’s 12th Book of the Year.
Can we ever get enough of James Patterson? Apparently not: he takes over the #1 spot on our Hardcover Fiction list with Cross My Heart, racking up sales of 66,665 print copies alone in its first week. In fact, as we note in our Online & On-Air page, Patterson has 115 books to his credit, with Cross My Heart being his 12th this year. Every one of those dozen titles sold between 10,000 and 68,000 in its debut week, and according to Little, Brown’s Sabrina Callahan, Patterson has sold over 295 million copies worldwide; the Alex Cross series alone counts for 81 million. Cross My Heart, Patterson’s 20th Alex Cross book (Along Came a Spider was the first), marks the 20th anniversary of the character who, Patterson revealed in a recent interview, was originally written as a female. The iconic Alex, however, is a 6 ft., 3. in. 200-pounder, and, if books don’t lie, damn athletic. He’s on his second wife, has two kids by his first, a well-loved grandmother, and a cat named Rosie. They all live in D.C. and Det. Cross, who knows his way around a serial killer, is usually protecting his home, hearth and city. In Cross My Heart, the detective’s family is the target, with a maniac on the loose determined to bring down Cross by attacking him where he is most vulnerable. The Cross books have been well received and sold well with a few (very few) exceptions. This time, Patterson, whose great success can be attributed in some part to his ingenuity in marketing and promotion, has created a controversy resulting in some grumbling among his devotees. Cross My Heart, at 400+ pages in length, ends right when Cross is about to go after the villain. To find out the ending, Patterson’s author’s note tells the reader, “Buy the next book,” claiming that he’s using the device to spice up the series. Despite a bit of online griping, it’s likely that fans will be lining up to do just what Patterson’s advising. Numbers don’t lie. If Patterson were a slot machine, the casino would close: he keeps paying out.—Louisa Ermelino
A Real Zelda Treasure
The Legend of Zelda continues to be one of the most successful video game franchises around, spawning over a dozen bestselling titles since its debut in 1986. One of the things fans love about the games are their depth, offering hidden gems and tidbits to discover even after the main storyline is finished. Completing each game can be a daunting endeavor, which is why many gamers turn to official strategy guides to give them a little help. Just in time for the holidays, Prima Games, which specializes in such guides, has unveiled The Legend of Zelda Box Set (#22 on our Hardcover Nonfiction list), a limited edition collection of guides to these six most recent games presented in high-quality hardcover tomes, packaged in a faux-wooden treasure chest, just like the ones seen in the games. Along with the Hyrule Historia, there’s little reason any Zelda fan’s stockings should go unfilled this holiday season. —Matt White
The Cuckoo’s Back
Moving up from last week’s #41 spot on our Hardcover Fiction list to #24 this week, The Cuckoo’s Calling, Robert Galbraith’s novel, which pubbed in April, continues a remarkable trajectory for a debut novel by an unknown British writer. Nielsen BookScan reported only 3,630 copies of the U.S. edition sold through retailers and clubs the seven weeks after its release. But, of course, Robert Galbraith was revealed in mid-July to be a pseudonym for J.K. Rowling, and sales took off. Nielsen reported that 66,000 copies sold by the end of July. The Cuckoo’s Calling has sold to date 283,000 copies of the 300,000-copy print run ordered by Hachette/Mulholland Books after Rowling was outed (the publisher ordered another 80,000-copy print run a week later). Chances are good that gift-giving impulses have helped give Galbraith yet another boost.
Rowling writes on Galbraith’s Web site that she feels that she “successfully channeled [her] inner bloke” in writing The Cuckoo’s Calling, which, received glowing reviews in the trades before its author’s true identity was known. PW, for instance, called the detective thriller set in London’s hoity-toity fashion world a “stellar debut.” In a concluding sentence that has, in hindsight, a somewhat prescient undertone, PW concluded that “readers will hope to see a lot more of this memorable sleuthing team,” one-legged private eye investigator Cormoran Strike and his office assistant, Robin Ellacott.
Rowling writes that she selected a male pseudonym to take her writing persona as far away as possible from her true self. She selected the name “Robert” after her hero, Robert F. Kennedy, and “Galbraith” because that surname has always fascinated her. As a child, she recalls, she wanted to rename herself “Ella Galbraith”; she says she has “no idea why.”
Undeterred by being unmasked as Robert Galbraith this past summer, Rowling is at work on her second Cormoran Strike novel, which is scheduled for release in 2014.—Claire Kirch
Trigiani’s Excellent Macaroni: The End of a Trilogy Involves Love and Secrets
The Supreme Macaroni Company, following Very Valentine and Brava, Valentine, is the third entry in Adriana Trigiani’s trilogy featuring beloved character Valentine Roncalli. The author’s latest lands at lucky #13 on our Hardcover Fiction list this week, with Nielsen sales of 9,924. In this final installment of Roncalli’s story, the schoolteacher turned shoemaker falls in love with and marries Gianluca Vechiarelli, a tanner with a complex past—and a secret. Though it seems like Valentine will finally get her happy ending, the demands of juggling a new business and the needs of her new family prove to be her biggest challenge yet. In addition to a rave People notice—“New York ambition clashes with dolce vita ease in Trigiani’s delicious latest”—and a Dec. 2 Today appearance (she tells Hoda and Kathie Lee about family tribulations), Adriana’s publicity junket has taken her to eight cities, including Providence, R.I., where she spoke before an SRO crowd of 900 fans. On tour, Trigiani has developed an act that she says is closer to stand-up comedy than to straightforward reading. She wants her readers to have fun, connect, laugh, and cry together, she says. In between stops for her latest tome, the author is busily editing the movie adaptation of her first novel, Big Stone Gap (2000), which is projected to be in theaters by the end of next year. Not only did Trigiani write the screenplay, but she also directed the film, which was shot just weeks ago on location in her Virginia hometown for which the book was named. And check out this impressive cast: the film stars Whoopi Goldberg, Ashley Judd, Patrick Wilson, John Benjamin Hickey, Chris Sarandon, Judith Ivey, Anthony LaPaglia, Jenna Elfman, Jane Krakowski and Jasmine Guy. Clearly there’s no need to call Central Casting: they’ve already shown up.—Dick Donahue
This week’s Picture Book list has a very different look than usual. The top of the list is almost completely dominated by storybook collections, which take up 13 of the top 15 slots. Disney held a Black Friday Storybook Promotion for 12 of its backlist collections, at reduced prices, in four accounts: Walmart, Amazon, Toys R Us, and the Meijer grocery chain. According to Disney’s Seale Ballenger, Walmart was the main driver of sales, which totaled close to half a million copies through the outlets reporting to Nielsen BookScan. HarperCollins also saw brisk sales on several of its story collections (Biscuit, Little Critter, Berenstain Bears), also at promotional price for Black Friday.
The collections program is an active and successful one for Disney, which has for years packaged several Disney character stories (princesses, fairy tales, etc.) into unjacketed hardcover editions. Next up: a third edition of The Classic Storybook Collection, due out next June, followed by a new edition of Disney Christmas Storybook Collection in September. And spring 2015 will see a redesign of all of the books in the line, to give them a more unified brand identity. —Diane Roback