An informal sampling of more than two dozen booksellers across the country found that the vast majority were confident that Robert Sabuda's elaborate pop-up Winter's Tale (Little Simon, $26.95) would be the holiday title to beat this year. Because two high-profile picture books—Ian Falconer's Olivia Does Christmas and Hilary Knight's Eloise in Hollywood—were postponed until 2006 the field is wide open for Sabuda.
Among gift books, a favorite descriptive word was "complete," although the two favorites are in different weight classes. The Complete New Yorker (Random House, $100) is a slim package with eight DVD-ROMS containing 80 years worth of weekly issues, while The Complete Calvin and Hobbes (Andrews McMeel, $150) is a slipcased, three-volume set weighing in at 22 pounds.
With the exception of J.R. Moehringer's debut memoir, The Tender Bar (Hyperion), most nonfiction handsell favorites are veteran writers: Joan Didion's A Year of Magical Thinking (Knopf); Kurt Vonnegut's Man Without a Country (Seven Stories Press); Doris Kearns Goodwin's Team of Rivals (S&S); and David McCullough's 1776 (S&S).
Among the fiction titles, there is excitement over E.L. Doctorow's The March (Random House); Gregory McGuire's Wicked sequel, Son of a Witch (Regan); Jan Karon's Light from Heaven (Viking); and Scott Turow's Ordinary Heroes (FSG).
One small press title garnering a lot of word-of-mouth is Clueless George Goes to War by political cartoonist Pat Bagley (White Horse Books). "Last year we sold 1,000 copies of Bagley's previous book [101 Ways to Survive Four More Yearsof George W. Bush] in one month," said Betsy Burton, owner of The King's English in Salt Lake City.
Besides Sabuda, the most mentioned title for younger readers was Wizardology, the third book in Candlewick's Ologies series. There was also enthusiasm for Stephenie Meyer's teen vampire novel, Twilight (Little, Brown). Cindy Dach, marketing director at Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe, Ariz., wasn't concerned that the novel's 500-page length would deter readers. "After Harry Potter, kids aren't afraid of big books," she said.