Two big names in literature died at the end of July, Gore Vidal and Maeve Binchy. While one might expect notable bumps in sales as a result, the numbers from Nielsen BookScan show big gains from small levels.
Vidal's books saw spikes in sales in the week following his death, but from very low levels. Out of all his books for the week ending August 5, Gore Vidal:Snapshots in History sold the most--but only moved 162 copies. The week before the book sold four copies, and year-to-date it has sold 281 copies. Vidal's other books have similar numbers: Julian sold 111 copies (up from 15 copies the week before); The City and the Pillar sold 111 copies (up from five copies); Lincoln sold 106 copies (up from 18); Burr sold 90 copies (up from 15). The sales spikes seen on Amazon for Vidal's books were evidently not sustained.
In the case of Binchy, her newest book Minding Frankie, released in trade paper by Random House earlier this year, sold 1,488 copies for the week ending August 5 at the outlets tracked by BookScan. However, that number is only a 7% increase over the previous week. The mass market edition of Minding Frankie saw a higher percent increase (85%) but lower overall numbers (410 copies sold). One of Binchy's bestselling books, Tara Road, saw a 500% increase, going from 30 copies sold to 138. The mass market edition of that book has sold over 260,000 copies, but two of Binchy's books have sold more: Quentins has sold over 275,000 copies and Scarlet Feather has sold over 350,000.