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Behind the Bestsellers
Daisy Maryles -- 7/24/00
Coulter Rides the Tide | A Compelling Chronicler
Potter Continues to Rule | Puzo Would be Pleased
Catherine Coulter is a familiar name on bestseller charts; she has landed at least one title each year for the last decade. The author of more than 40 historical romances (with 32 million copies in print worldwide), she published her first back in 1978, and made it onto the national charts about 10 years later with Moonspun Magic. Riptide is her fifth bestselling contemporary suspense novel in about five years, and it hits #3 on PW's list after about a week in the stores. Putnam launched the book with more than 300,000 copies and Coulter is doing a 16-city media tour that will keep her on the road through the first week in August.
Coulter Rides the Tide
A Compelling Chronicler
Over the years, two subjects always guaranteed strong sales and more often than not bestselling sales--Princess Diana and anything about the Kennedy family. Author Christopher Andersen has had his share of bestsellers on both topics and his latest, The Day John Died, published about one year after the tragic death of JFK Jr. and his wife, Carolyn, and Carolyn's sister Lauren, is off to a rapid sales pace. Morrow launched the book with a 250,000-copy first printing and the print and broadcast coverage has been enormous. An earlier Andersen bestseller, The Day Diana Died, also published about a year after Princess Diana's death, made it to the top of the national charts and was on PW's weekly list for seven weeks. Morrow launched that book with a 140,000 first printing, and back to press activity within a few weeks of pub date took that number to about 350,000. Andersen has written 21 books and has been translated into more than 20 languages worldwide.
Potter Continues to RuleIn its first week on the Wall Street Journal bestseller chart, J.K. Rowling's fourth Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, had a sales index of 2883, compared with 54 for The House on Hope Street by Danielle Steel, which led the hardcover fiction on the adult side. It may be a while before we see that kind of range again and it certainly won't happen again before Harry Potter V. Meanwhile, second-week sales are equally impressive. Tallying the figures at two of the major national chains, Amazon.com and a half-dozen large independents brings a grand total of more than 600,000 copies sold. When combining the sales tally for the same week at those outlets for the top three adult hardcover fiction bestsellers--The House on Hope Street, Omerta and Riptide--the total is close to 35,000. That's an almost 18 to 1 ratio.
Not surprisingly, the sales for the Potter audiobook is also setting records. The Listening Library audio, released simultaneously with the hardcover, all but exhausted its first printing of 180,000 copies on cassette and CD after less than one week on sale. Listening Library has gone back to press three times for an additional 110,000 copies. These figures make it the fastest selling audio ever. (For more details, see Children's Audio/Video.)
Puzo Would be PleasedMario Puzo's posthumously published novel, Omerta, has been garnering rave notices, including a PW starred review that noted it is "a worthy memorial to the author, who for one last time makes readers an offer they can't refuse." Random House published the book with a 450,000-copy first printing. The publisher did an aggressive marketing campaign that included a TV and radio blitz, full-page print ads and an Omerta/Live Like a Mafia King for a Weekend sweepstakes on E!Online (two million page views a month). Tony Puzo, the author's son, and Jon Karp, editor of Omerta, are handling the media interviews.
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