After months of hype, the first adult novel from J.K. Rowling debuted with the third biggest print opening of 2012. At outlets tracked by Nielsen BookScan, The Casual Vacancy sold 156,679 copies in its first week—enough to place it behind only No Easy Day by Mark Owen (254,046 copies) and Fifty Shades Darker (170,628 copies) for this year’s biggest debut. Across all formats, publisher Little, Brown said Rowling’s book sold approximately 375,000 copies in its first six days on sale.
Rowling joins a group of 18 titles that exceeded 50,000 first-week copies sold this year, according to Nielsen. That outlets tracked by BookScan, which account for 75% to 80% of print, only represented less than 50% of the total Vacancy sales reported by Little, Brown hints at the big role that e-book sales played in Vacancy’s success, but a look at bestselling debuts from 2011 versus 2012 paints a less definite picture of the growing importance of e-books.
Authors like Charlaine Harris and John Grisham saw much bigger print debuts with their 2011 titles versus their 2012 titles. Harris’s 2012’s Deadlocked sold 77,913 copies in its first week on sale at BookScan outlets compared to 140,112 copies of Dead Reckoning in 2011, while Grisham’s The Litigators moved 115,116 in its first week on sale last October, but his most recent book, Calico Joe, had a first-week sale of 57,608 at BookScan stores. Authors like Ken Follett and Nora Roberts, however, saw bigger numbers in 2012 versus their books in previous years. Roberts’s The Last Boyfriend sold 82,479 copies when it was released the week ended May 6, 2012, compared to 61,710 copies sold of The Next Always released last November. Follett’s Winter of the World sold 86,081 copies its first week on sale this September at BookScan, up from 72,657 copies sold of Fall of Giants when it was released in 2010.
Industrywide, 2011 saw more big debuts than this year: 12 books launched with more than 100,000 copies sold, compared to six in 2012, according to BookScan. But expect 2012’s number to go up, with at least three books certain to debut over 100,000 when they publish later this year: Notorious Nineteen by Janet Evanovich (Nov.), The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan (Oct.), and The Third Wheel by Jeff Kinney (Nov.). Still, the drop in 2012 signifies that sales are migrating from p to e, though the extent of that migration can vary.
Biggest Print Debuts of 2012
|Mark Owen||No Easy Day||254,046|
|E.L. James||Fifty Shades Darker||170,628|
|J.K. Rowling||The Casual Vacancy||156,679|
|E.L. James||Fifty Shades Freed||147,974|
|E.L. James||Fifty Shades of Grey||136,252|
|Rick Riordan||The Serpent's Shadow||116,374|
|E.L. James||Fifty Shades Box Set||87,432|
|Ken Follett||Winter of the World||86,081|
|Vince Flynn||Kill Shot||84,486|
|Nora Roberts||The Last Boyfriend||82,479|
|James Patterson, Maxine Paetro||11th Hour||64,037|
|Lee Child||A Wanted Man||63,062|
|Stephen King||The Wind Through the Keyhole||59,099|
|John Green||The Fault in Our Stars||57,898|
|John Grisham||Calico Joe||57,608|
|David Baldacci||The Innocent||50,367|
Source: Nielsen BookScan