Back in PW’s bestseller report of 2002, there were an astounding number of mass market bestsellers with sales over the million-copy mark. A total of eight books boasted sales of two million and more; an additional 39 claimed more than one million. That’s a dramatic contrast to the total of six million+ players noted in our 2012 report. Two current million-copy authors, John Grisham and Nora Roberts, were among the 2002 two million+, and Roberts had three on that list. The newcomer to the 2011 million-copy club is George R.R. Martin, with four books totaling more than 5.5-million copies.

There were 48 mass market bestsellers with units of more than 500,000+ on this year’s list—the lowest figure we’ve recorded. In 2010, the previous low record, 58 bestsellers reached 500,000+. And in the 2002 report, for which we collected sales only on 750,000+, there were 72 mass markets that hit that number.

What did not change among the 2011 top sellers were the authors. They include the usual winners who have multiple hits—James Patterson with five—and Janet Evanovich, Danielle Steel, Dean Koontz, Debbie Macomber, Iris Johansen, each with three apiece. For most of these authors, unit sales dropped from previous years. In 2010, Evanovich went over the one million mark with Finger Lickin’ Fifteen and Koontz’s highest was 948,000 for Restless, Patterson got to about 927,000 for Cross Fire, and Macomber reached more than 900,000 for One Night. The two perennial high rollers that did go higher from 2010 to 2011 were Grisham and Roberts.

Fewer Trade Titles

For trade paperbacks, we again asked publishers to report on titles that sold 100,000 or more during the 2011 calendar year. The figure for last year was 106, a record low. In 2010, we had 134 books reporting sales of 100,000+ and the record high was in 2005 with 226 books. Also waning were unit sales. In 2011, there were eight books with sales of 500,000+ compared with 12 in 2010 and 22 in 2009. Two of the high rollers, The Help and Water for Elephants, appeared twice—the second time for their movie tie-in editions. Both racked up very impressive sales when combining the two editions. The Help went over the five million mark (all the Academy Award Oscar buzz certainly helped), and Water rose to about 1,263,000. Topping the charts for the first time is Thomas Nelson, for Heaven Is for Real, a back to life story of a young child whose trip to heaven during surgery sold more than 4.6 million in paper.

Eclectic is always the best adjective for trade paper, where commercial and literary fiction reign and how-to and serious nonfiction hold court. There was also a stronger than usual showing of titles by religion publishers—while Nelson topped the list, Zondervan had eight 100,000-copy top-sellers. Since Harper now owns both publishers, it will be interesting to see what happens next year. And that goes for all publishers.

Note: All the figures that follow on the two paperback lists were provided by publishers. An asterisk denotes a title for which sales figures were provided in confidence, to be used for ranking purposes only. In a few cases, we rounded down numbers to indicate their relationship to figures for other titles.

Mass Market Fiction


A Feast for Crows. George R.R. Martin. Bantam (1,632,878).

The Confession. John Grisham. Dell (1,576,834).

A Game of Thrones. George R.R. Martin. Bantam (1,539,783).

A Clash of Kings. George R.R. Martin. Bantam (1,204,723).

A Storm of Swords. George R.R. Martin. Bantam (1,136,075).

The Search. Nora Roberts. Jove (1,039,005).


Sizzling Sixteen. Janet Evanovich. St. Martin’s (900,000).

Worth Dying For. Lee Child. Dell (862,852).

Big Girl. Danielle Steel. Dell (848,608).

Smokin’ Seventeen. Janet Evanovich. Bantam (833,763).

What the Night Knows. Dean Koontz. Bantam (775,584).

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (movie tie-in). Stieg Larsson. Vintage (752,000).

Family Ties. Danielle Steel. Dell (750,053).

Wicked Appetite. Janet Evanovich. St. Martin’s (750,000).

Legacy. Danielle Steel. Dell (749,623).

Frankenstein: The Dead Town. Dean Koontz. Bantam (739,456).

Deception. Jonathan Kellerman. Ballantine (734,607).

*Caught. Harlan Coben. Signet.

Toys. James Patterson and Neil McMahon. Vision (708,618).

Frankenstein: Lost Souls. Dean Koontz. Bantam (703,694).

Cross Fire. James Patterson. Vision (703,594).


*Port Mortuary. Patricia Cornwell. Berkley.

*Whiplash. Catherine Coulter. Jove.

Chasing the Night. Iris Johansen. St. Martin’s (650,000).

*Storm Prey. John Sandford. Berkley.

Water for Elephants (movie tie-in). Sara Gruen. Algonquin (610,515).

Deliver Us from Evil. David Baldacci. Vision (578,240).

Something Borrowed (movie tie-in). Emily Giffin. St. Martin’s (575,000).

*The Silent Sea. Clive Cussler. Berkley.

Worst Case. James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge. Vision (561,674).

Touched by Angels. Debbie Macomber. Avon (556,719).

Sizzle. Julie Garwood. Ballantine (554,058).

A Season for Angels. Debbie Macomber. Avon (553,906).

Quinn. Iris Johansen. St. Martin’s (550,000).

Eve. Iris Johansen. St. Martin’s (550,000).


The Shadow of Your Smile. Mary Higgins Clark. Pocket (544,747).

Broken. Karin Slaughter. Dell (537,546).

Just Like Heaven. Julia Quinn. Avon (535,299).

1105 Yakima Street. Debbie Macomber. Mira (528,717).

Swimsuit. James Patterson and Maxine Paetro. Grand Central (520,007).

In Pursuit of Eliza Cynster. Stephanie Laurens. Avon (519,525).

*Miracle Cure. Harlan Coben. Signet.

The Jefferson Key. Steve Berry. Ballantine (515,924).

*Bad Blood. John Sandford, Berkley.

Private. James Patterson and Maxine Paetro. Grand Central (507,105).

The Girl Who Played with Fire. Stieg Larsson. Vintage (502,200).

*Indulgence in Death. J.D. Robb. Berkley.

*Secrets to the Grave. Tami Hoag. Signet.

Trade Paperbacks


Heaven Is for Real. Todd Burpo. Thomas Nelson (4,679,793).


*The Help. Kathryn Stockett. Berkley.

*The Help ( movie tie-in). Kathryn Stockett. Berkley.


The Girl with Dragon Tattoo (movie tie-in). Stieg Larsson. Vintage (1,100,000).


Water for Elephants. Sara Gruen. Algonquin (723,249).

*The Next Always. Nora Roberts. Berkley.

Sarah’s Key. Tatiana de Rosnay. St. Martin’s Griffin (600,000).

Water for Elephants (movie tie-in). Sara Gruen. Algonquin (540,000).

Cutting for Stone. Abraham Verghese. Vintage (496,000).

One Day. David Nicholls. Vintage (496,000).

Safe Haven. Nicholas Sparks. Grand Central (438,133).

Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know. Alexandra Horowitz. Scribner (421,123).

Room. Emma Donoghue. Little, Brown/Back Bay (411,742).

Heart of the Matter. Emily Giffin. St. Martin’s Griffin. (400,000).


Outliers: The Story of Success. Malcolm Gladwell. Little, Brown/Back Bay (391,884).

The Art of Racing in the Rain. Garth Stein. Harper Perennial (370,686).

The Happiness Project. Gretchen Rubin. Harper Perennial (367,686).

The Girl Who Played with Fire. Stieg Larsson. Vintage (366,000).

A Visit from the Goon Squad. Jennifer Egan. Anchor (329,000).

Hungry Girl 300 Under 300. Lisa Lillien. St. Martin’s Griffin (325,000).

A Game of Thrones. George R.R. Martin. Bantam (322,029).

Unlikely Friendships: 47 Remarkable Stories from the Animal Kingdom. Jennifer S. Holland. Workman (314,778).

The Glass Castle: A Memoir. Jeannette Walls. Scribner (314,121).

*The Postmistress. Sarah Blake. Berkley.

Born to Run. Christopher McDougall. Vintage (307,000).


The Alchemist. Paulo Coelho. HarperOne (295,405).

*Dead or Alive. Tom Clancy. Berkley.

The Imperfectionists. Tom Rachman. Dial (278,965).

The 9th Judgment. James Patterson. Grand Central (278,735).

The Tiger’s Wife. Téa Obreht. Random House (271,866).

Longing. Karen Kingsbury. Zondervan (260,000).

Empire of the Summer Moon. S.C. Gwynne. Scribner (257,079).

Something Borrowed (movie tie-in). Emily Giffin. St. Martin’s Griffin (255,500).

Night Road. Kristin Hannah. St. Martin’s Griffin (255,000).

Little Bee. Chris Cleave. Simon & Schuster (254,197)

*Fall of Giants. Ken Follett. NAL.

Made to Crave: Satisfying Your Deepest Desire with God, Not Food. Lysa TerKeurst. Zondervan (250,000).


*The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine. Michael Lewis. Norton.

Original Argument: The Federalist Case for the Constitution, Adapted for the 21st Century. Glenn Beck. Threshold (249,618).

*Moneyball (movie tie-in). Michael Lewis. Norton.

Leaving. Karen Kingsbury. Zondervan (245,000).

A Dog’s Purpose. W. Bruce Cameron. Forge (243,433).

Not a Fan: Becoming a Completely Committed Follower of Jesus. Kyle Idleman. Zondervan (240,000).

The Island. Elin Hilderbrand. Little, Brown/Back Bay (237,086).

Private. James Patterson and Maxine Paetro. Grand Central (233,820).

The Postcard Killers. James Patterson and Liza Marklund. Grand Central (232,867).

The Passage. Justin Cronin. Ballantine (231,505).

Unlocked: A Love Story. Karen Kingsbury. Zondervan (230,000).


Take Three. Karen Kingsbury. Zondervan (220,000).

Take Four. Karen Kingsbury. Zondervan (220,000).

Think Twice. Lisa Scottoline. St. Martin’s Griffin (220,000).

Tick Tock. James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge. Grand Central (219,497).

Life. Keith Richards with James Fox. Little, Brown/Back Bay (218,620).

Secret Daughter. Shilpi Somaya Gowda. Morrow (214,241).

The Sixth Man. David Baldacci. Grand Central (208,382).

The Devil in the White City. Erik Larson, Vintage (207,000).

One for the Money (movie tie-in). Janet Evanovich. St. Martin’s Griffin (200,000).

Secret Kept. Tatiana de Rosnay. St. Martin’s Griffin (200,000).

Sarah’s Key (movie tie-in). Tatiana de Rosnay. St. Martin’s Griffin (200,000).

Learning. Karen Kingsbury. Zondervan (200,000).


Now Eat This! Diet. Rocco DiSpirito. Grand Central (195,253).

Mini Shopaholic. Sophie Kinsella. Random House (192,201).

Don’t Blink. James Patterson and Howard Roughan. Grand Central (190,586).

Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea. Chelsea Handler. Gallery (185,483).

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (movie tie-in). Jonathan Safran Foer. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (181,337).

Soul Surfer. Bethany Hamilton. Gallery (181,167).

The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates. Wes Moore. Random/Spiegel & Grau (177,571).

Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand. Helen Simonson. Random House (176,701).

Something Borrowed. Emily Giffin. St. Martin’s Griffin (175,000).

Left Neglected. Lisa Genova. Gallery (173,685).

Distant Shores. Kristin Hannah. Ballantine (171,94).

Winter Garden. Kristin Hannah. St. Martin’s Griffin (170,000).


Cleopatra: A Life. Stacy Schiff. Little, Brown/Back Bay (169,126).

Eat to Live, Revised. Dr. Joel Fuhrman. Little, Brown/Back Bay (167,439).

The Red Queen. Philippa Gregory. Touchstone (162,728).

A Clash of Kings. George R.R. Martin. Bantam (162,561).

*A Discovery of Witches. Deborah Harkness. Penguin.

The Descendants (movie tie-in). Kaui Hart Hemmings. Random House (158,463).

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. Jonathan Safran Foer. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (156,734).

Have a Little Faith. Mitch Albom. Hyperion (154,902).

The Fifth Witness. Michael Connelly. Grand Central (153,078).

*The Kite Runner. Khaled Hosseini. Riverhead.


Silver Girl. Elin Hilderbrand. Little, Brown/Back Bay (147,597).

Full Dark, No Stars. Stephen King. Gallery (146,804).

*Committed: A Love Story. Elizabeth Gilbert. Penguin.

New Atkins for a New You. Dr. Eric C. Westman. Fireside (145,036).

Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang. Chelsea Handler. Grand Central (143,114).

I Still Dream About You. Fannie Flagg. Random House (138,138).

Every Last One. Anna Quindlen. Random House (136,686).

Shanghai Girls. Lisa See. Random House (132,230).

How to Win Friends and Influence People. Dale Carnegie. Gallery (132,178).

These Things Hidden. Heather Gudenkauf. Mira (129,398).

What’s New, Cupcake?: Ingeniously Simple Designs for Every Occasion. Karen Tack and Alan Richardson. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (129,282).

The Invisible Bridge. Julie Orringer. Vintage (126,000).


1,000 Places to See Before You Die, 2nd Edition. Patricia Schultz. Workman (121,749).

*Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. Daniel Pink. Riverhead.

Perks of Being a Wallflower. Stephen Chbosky. Gallery (117,395).

Innocent. Scott Turow. Grand Central (116,597).

Clark Howard’s Living Large in Lean Times. Clark Howard. Avery (116,044).

Still Missing. Chevy Stevens. St. Martin’s Griffin (115,000).

Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modern Bestiary. David Sedaris. Little, Brown (114,812).

Thank You Notes. Jimmy Fallon and the Writers of Late Night. Grand Central (114,189).

The Land of Painted Caves. Jean M. Auel. Bantam Books (113,472).

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Seth Grahame-Smith. Grand Central (112,314).

One Good Dog. Susan Wilson. St. Martin’s Griffin (110,000).

Assholes Finish First. Max Tucker. Gallery (109,783).

Still Alice. Lisa Genova. Gallery (109,071).

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter. Tom Franklin. Morrow (108,549).

Food Network Magazine Great Easy Meals. Food Network Magazine. Hyperion (106,923).

Between Friends. Debbie Macomber. Mira (106,803).

A Feast for Crows. George R.R. Martin. Bantam (102,122).

The Calhouns: Catherine, Amanda & Lilah. Nora Roberts. Silhouette (102,114).

We Need to Talk About Kevin. Lionel Shriver. Harper Perennial (101,754).

Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease the Revolutionary, Scientifically Proven, Nutrition-Based Cure. Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn Jr. Avery (100,058).

Superfreakonomics. Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner. Morrow (100,029).

Super Sad True Love Story. Gary Shteyngart. Random House (105,000).

One Thousand White Women. Jim Fergus. St. Martin’s Griffin (100,000). (Published in 1999, it was a Target Book Club Pick in July 2011.)

Look Again. Lisa Scottoline. St. Martin’s Griffin (100,000).