Behind the Bestsellers
Daisy Maryles -- 12/18/00

Fiction's Final Shows | A World Almanac First | Holiday Sales Countdown

Fiction's Final ShowsTwo veteran bestselling authors make PW's final weekly list for 2000 (we skip the December 25 issue, so the rest of the holiday sales period will be reflected in the January 1, 2001, issue). Ken Follett hits the list in the #6 spot with Code to Zero. Dutton did a one-day laydown on December
4 and boasts 410,000 copies in print. Foreign rights have been sold to 23 countries; in Italy, where the book was published in October, it's been #1 for five weeks. This is Follett's 12th international bestseller and his total in-print figure for North America alone is more than 20 million. This is Dutton's first Follett in hardcover and the house left little to chance. They've done national newspaper advertising and an extensive TV ad campaign from the on-sale date up to Christmas. From his London home, Follett did a national U.S. TV and radio satellite tour to 15 and 18 markets, respectively.
In the #9 spot is Jonathan Kellerman's Dr. Death, his 13th book featuring child psychologist and LAPD consultant Dr. Alex Delaware. Random House launched the book with a 450,000-copy first printing. Kellerman opted not to tour for this book, but the publisher noted that excellent reviews will certainly buoy sales. He and his wife, author Faye Kellerman, will be profiled on CBS Sunday Morning some time in February. Kellerman is regarded as the premier writer of psychological thrillers, and his Delaware novels have been translated into about two dozen languages.

The new legal thriller by Richard North Patterson, Protect and Defend, will surely be high on the first bestseller list of 2001. Knopf did a one-day laydown on December 12 and announced a 500,000-copy first printing. The author will be making national media appearances (including Court TV) and stopping in New York, San Francisco, Boston and D.C. The first chapter of the book ends with the death of the chief justice of the Supreme Court of an apparent heart attack during the swearing-in ceremony of a newly elected president. People weary of the recent election roller-coaster will appreciate some fictional political drama.

A World Almanac FirstAccording to publisher Ken Park, The World Almanac 2001 will be the first of these annuals published since 1868 that went to press without recording the president-elect. Each year, the Almanac g s to press after the November national elections (or, in non-election years, following the last game of the World Series). Still, there are more than 80 pages on the 2000 election--more than any other almanac--including a complete rundown of electoral votes and even a county-by-county breakdown of the popular vote. The first printing is 1.3 million copies and the company has earmarked $500,000 for a marketing campaign that includes a 12-city national satellite media tour and more than 100 radio interviews with editors, plus 30-second spots on the CBS Radio Network scheduled until Christmas. Free monthly e-mail newsletters will keep buyers apprised of future political and other developments.

Holiday Sales CountdownHow's holiday business in the crucial weeks leading up to Christmas? Judging by unit sales of the top bestsellers only, it's clear that so far there are much fewer BIG unit bestsellers than in 1999 and 1998. Checking the hardcover numbers at Barnes & Noble (the patterns are the same at the other national chains), there were four books with sales of 10,000+ for the week ending December 5; Tom Wolfe's AMan in Full led with sales of 19,000+. The week of December 12 had seven sellers over the 10,000 level, with The Greatest Generation leading at 44,000+. During that same time span in 1999, there were 10 books with sales of more than 10,000 during the first week in December and 14 in the second. Tuesdays with Morrie led both lists, with a combined sales figure of about 160,000. This year, there were four hardcovers with sales of 10,000+ for the week ending December 2 and five for the week ending December 11. In both cases the #1 book is Who Moved My Cheese, with combined sales of about 42,500.