The widely touted return of Oprah’s book club hasn’t exactly driven fans Wild. In fact, it looks like her first pick in Book Club 2.0 has turned out to be the weakest out-of-the-gate performance in some time—selling fewer copies, in fact, than the 65th and final selection of her earlier club, the December 2010 pairing of A Tale of Two Cities with Great Expectations. In the first two weeks of that pick, sales slid from 20,739 to 16,690—lowered expectations. Consider, for example, the book club’s halcyon days of, say, the extravagantly praised The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski. In September 2008, the pre-Oprah week’s sales totaled 7,854, certainly a respectable number. In week two, 68,593 copies were sold; week three blew through the roof, with 130,153 Sawtelles barking up a storm. Fast forward to the week of May 28, 2012, when Wild print sales (before the announcement of the new club) were 3,541; the following week’s unit sales (June 4) jumped to 11,319—so far, so good. However, unit sales the week of June 11 were 12,303—in Oprah parlance, not exactly figures to shout about.—D.D.
“Furst is one of the finest spy novelists working today, and, from boudoir to the beach, Mission to Paris is perfect summer reading.” Reviews such as this from PW have become de rigueur for this master of espionage, whose career launched with 1988’s Night Soldiers; his most recent work was 2010’s Spies of the Balkans, which sold 66,538 copies, according to Nielsen BookScan. The Spies of Warsaw (2008), with sales of 105,560, began filming last month by the BBC, with former Doctor Who star David Tennant taking a leading role. Blurbs for Mission from Vince Flynn, James Patterson, and Erik Larson have positioned Furst to a broader readership, says his publisher; the fact that Tom Hanks tweeted to his four million followers that he was reading a Furst novel didn’t hurt. Traditional media (interviews on NPR’s Weekend Edition, CBS This Morning, and in the Wall Street Journal) ramped up the author’s media presence, including an online video for the book and a vivid YouTube promo. Furst was in L.A. as we went to press, reporting his biggest turnouts ever. —C.J.
With a return to Grizzly Falls, Mont., for the fourth book in her Alvarez & Pescoli series, Lisa Jackson also returns to the mass market list with Afraid to Die. Last seen in Born to Die, the female detective duo Selena Alvarez and Regan Pescoli are no strangers to PW’s list. All four titles in Jackson’s series have been bestsellers, with this marking the 13th week combined that the series has spent on the list, with Nielsen reporting 76,627 copies sold. “Jackson has a large female readership, and she also appeals to male thriller readers who enjoy such authors as Harlan Coben, Jonathan Kellerman, and John Sandford,” says Kensington publisher Laurie Parkin. When asked what fuels her passion for exploring dark characters and suspenseful situations, Jackson explains: “I love thrillers myself and I feel very fortunate to write romantic suspense, my favorite kind of book. We all have deep, dark fears and I love to tap into them while simultaneously exploring a love story. Really, it’s the best of both worlds.” Fans won’t have to wait long for Jackson’s latest opus. Her standalone hardcover, You Don’t Want to Know, is due August 7. As for more Montana murders, Jackson’s busy writing the fifth Alvarez & Pescoli installment, Ready to Die, coming in August 2013.—D.D.
New Kids on the Block Considering Double Debuts Two freshmen novelists appear on this week’s Fiction list: Maggie Shipstead’s Seating Arrangements debuts at #22, while Matthew Quirk’s The 500 snags the 24th spot. A social comedy about an uber-WASP wedding with a very pregnant bride, Seating went on sale June 12 with a 55,000-copy first printing. Launched with endorsements from Richard Russo, J. Courtney Sullivan, and Justin Torres, Seating has already been reviewed in the NYTBR, Washington Post, Boston Globe, and San Francisco Chronicle, with more to come in the daily New York Times, USA Today, and EW. Shipstead, a native Californian and a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, was snatched up at Knopf by Jordan Pavlin, whose “little yellow barnacles” of wisdom on Post-it notes Shipstead credits with improving her manuscript and making her a better writer. Touring Seating include Boston, Connecticut, Maine, New York, San Diego, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. According to Reagan Arthur, editorial director of her eponymous Little, Brown imprint, “What first grabbed us about The 500 was Matthew Quirk’s sort of new school/old school energy: the narrator hero has a vibrant young voice (and a great backstory), but the plot, and its nonstop twists and turns, are the work of someone who knows how to tell a great, classically constructed thriller”—in the tradition, Arthur says, of authors like Harlan Coben, Lee Child, and Scott Turow. She notes that Quirk’s background as a reporter in Washington, D.C., “brings a terrific insider’s knowledge of the complicated, high-stakes machinations that take place behind the scenes.” Not only does Quirk have a two-book deal, 22-foreign deals, and a tour, but film rights were snapped up by Fox the week after the book deal was done.—D.D.