Behind the Bestsellers
Daisy Maryles -- 9/4/00
Clancy D s It Again | #2--A Pretty Good Kind
A Song of Success | You Go, Girls!
Clancy D s It AgainIt's no surprise to anyone in the book business when a new Tom Clancy lands in the #1 slot after one week in the stores. His latest, The Bear and the Dragon, d s just that; Putnam launched the book on August 21 with a two million first printing. Only two other authors enjoy that level of hardcovers in print at the onset--John Grisham and the Harry Potter books. And last week, Clancy's newest was the fastest-selling book in the U.S. Since early July, that claim was held by J.K. Rowling for the fourth Potter installment. Clancy's first week of sales was excellent--at Barnes & Noble, Borders and Waldenbooks, the combined total was almost 100,000. Two years ago, first-week sales at the same chains for Rainbow Six were about 96,000. Not surprisingly, Clancy was tapped many times for commentary on the recent Russian submarine disaster (including appearances on Larry King Live [three times], Today, Conan O'Brien and an essay for Newsweek). Media for the book included more King interviews, a TV satellite tour to 18 cities, a live Yahoo.com Webcast from the Quantico Marine Base plus live chats with AOL/Compuserve and Barnesandnoble.com. The only things left to guess at are how long Clancy will hold the top spot and how long his bestselling tenure will be. In 1998, Rainbow Six was #1 for seven weeks and spent 25 weeks on the charts; in 1996, Executive Orders was #1 for six weeks with a 24-week run on the charts. Clancy's first stop on his tours traditionally has been the Booksmith in New London, Conn. For RainbowSix, the author signed 1,100 copies in three-and-a-half hours; his record at the store has been 1,400 for Executive Orders. But that fell with The Bear and the Dragon, which set a new high at 1,435.
#2--A Pretty Good KindThat's about as good as it can get for an author who lands the same week as Tom Clancy. Terry Goodkind's sixth volume of the Sword of Truth series, Faith of the Fallen, was launched by Tor on August 22 with a 250,000-copy first printing. The author is currently in the midst of a 15-city tour and is doing lots of online publicity.
A Song of SuccessKent Haruf's Plainsong was one of Knopf's favorite bestsellers last year. It was handsold by everyone in the house and had a 14-week run on PW's charts, getting as high as the #7 slot. After 10 trips to press the in-print total was 198,000. This week, the Vintage trade paperback lands in the #8 spot; early signs are excellent for a healthy run in this edition, too. Vintage's 275,000-copy first printing had to be replenished after just one week in the stores with an additional 100,000. The book is being aggressively promoted as a reading group title, with Vintage's guide available at www.vintagebooks.com/read and at bookstores. The Kansas City Star, Salon.com and other national media outlets have chosen Plainsong as a feature reading-group title. Haruf is on a 15-city tour and will meet with book groups in each city to discuss the book.
You Go, Girls!One of the nonfiction books selling very well and making regional lists is Nine and Counting: The Women of the Senate edited by Catherine Whitney. Morrow teamed up with I.village.com and Ladies Home Journal to launch the book on July 26. The Journal did a first serial excerpt in the August issue and I.village is doing ongoing chats with the senators. Both sponsored a launch party on July 25 on Capitol Hill. The Senate bookshop sold out of books that evening and it continues to be among its bestsellers. The senators' proceeds from the book will be donated to the Girl Scouts of the USA. Earlier that day, a signing by all nine senators in the main hall of Washington's Union Station drew hundreds of people. B&N supplied the books and in about an hour and a half over 300 books were signed. Another natural sales venue were the political convention cities--Philadelphia and L.A.; sales were brisk at all events. From there the women went to their respective hometowns and did SRO events at every stop. The book appeared at #1 on the Dallas Morning News bestseller list (home territory for Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison) and #14 on the San Francisco Chronicle bestseller list (home territory to Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein) before any events even took place in the state. Morrow has gone back to press six times, bringing the total to 51,000.