When Mario Puzo's book, The Godfather, was published back in 1969, it enjoyed sales for that calendar year of about 350,000 copies, enough to make it the second bestselling novel for the year. (Phillip Roth's Portnoy's Complaint had sales of about 418,000 that year, and it led PW's end-of-the-year chart.) On a PW all-time bestseller chart that included sales figures through 1975, The Godfather was the lead fiction title with combined hard/paper sales of more than 12 million; Roth's book at the time had combined sales of close to four million. Currently, Random House reports that worldwide sales for The Godfather are in the 21-million range. No wonder that Random House v-p/editorial director Jonathan Karp (who had been Puzo's editor for other titles for about 10 years) often asked the author to write a sequel. According to Karp, at some point the author said that his family could do what they wanted with the rights after he died. Author Mark Winegardner was chosen from among many candidates; his credits include two well-received literary novels, and he was the same age as Puzo was when he wrote The Godfather. Enter The Godfather Returns, which lands in the #5 spot this week. The book's reviews have been excellent, including a starred PW, and Winegardner is on an 11-city tour through December 8. Total copies in print for The Godfather Returns are 390,000 after three printings; the first printing was 325,000.
Volume 251 Issue 48 11/29/2004