Since this is the year's final column (and our feature analyzing the 2002 bestsellers isn't scheduled until January 13), it seems like the right time to share a few observations on the year's top sellers. And even though this column is being written six days before Christmas, we can still predict the season's winners and losers (although that's perhaps not the best word for any book that makes it to the charts—a feat achieved by fewer than 2% of all books published in the course of a year).
So, what were the bestselling fiction and nonfiction books this year? In fiction, it's a close race between John Grisham's The Summons (first printing was 2.8 million) and book #10 in the megaselling Left Behind series, The Remnant by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins (first printing: 2.75 million). We are predicting that Grisham's book will be the top fiction bestseller, a position he held for 10 consecutive years, until 2001, when Desecration, the previous book in the apocalyptic series, led the bestseller parade. It will be a closer call on the nonfiction side. The race looks like it is between two how-to books, both published before 2002. Spencer Johnson's Who Moved My Cheese? ends the year with a continuous run on the charts of 154 weeks, 51 of those in 2002. Putnam reports 6.3 million copies in print. Self Matters by Phillip C. McGraw had a November 13, 2001, laydown and a 48-week run on the charts (four in 2001 and 44 in 2002); it spent 13 of those weeks in the #1 slot (more than any other hardcover nonfiction this year). Simon & Schuster reports more than two million copies in print, with at least 60% of them credited to this year. It may be a photo finish, but we're giving the edge to Self Matters.