Tito Francona managed the Boston Red Sox from 2004 to 2011. In his first year, the Red Sox broke the "Curse of the Bambino" and ended a World Series title drought that had lasted since 1918, when Babe Ruth was the team's star pitcher. The Sox won the title again, in 2007. But a late-season collapse in 2011 led to Francona's unceremonious dismissal. The tight-lipped Francona spent a year working for ESPN, but must have been sharpening his thoughts about a storied organization that seemed to blame the him for clubhouse dysfunction. With Boston Globe sportswriter Dan Shaughnessy, he has penned a searing indictment of Red Sox ownership, saying of owner John Henry and CEO Larry Lucchino, "They don't love baseball… they like baseball. It's revenue." Francona also laments the front office's obsession with TV ratings. Chairman Tom Werner is quoting as saying, "We need to start winning in more exciting fashion." Francona stomped out of several meetings with the brass. His public shifting of the blame for the team's woes to ownership is finding favor with otherwise unhappy Sox fans—last year, under since-fired manager Bobby Valentine, the team finished 24 games under .500, its worst finish since 1965. As a stand-up guy who brought the club two titles, Francona has remained popular with Red Sox Nation, and they are eating up his new book, Francona: The Red Sox Years (HMH). Debuting at #3 on our Nonfiction Hardcover list, the book sold nearly 20,000 copies in its first week, three-quarters of them in the Northeast. Boston fans have long been inured to suffering, and reading Francona's account of big shots screwing up is exquisite off-season sport. Francona returns to managing this year—in Cleveland. —Michael Coffey
James Patterson, in the Guinness Book of World Records for the author with the most New York Times bestsellers, likes to share the wealth with a stable of co-writers. The book poised to join Paterson's never-ending output this week, Private Berlin, was done with Mark Sullivan, a veteran commercial fiction author, Peace Corps volunteer, and investigative journalist, who, pre-Patterson, published eight novels, sold foreign and movie rights, and picked up a few awards. Sullivan, who continues to write independently (he's working on a second book featuring CIA operative Robin Monarch, following Rogue), first partnered with Patterson for Private Games, another entry in the thriller series centered on Private, an international investigation firm. Writing in PW about his collaboration with Patterson, Sullivan called himself "lucky," while PW called this fifth Private novel "formulaic." Never mind. Private Berlin hits #1 with more than 38,000 copies sold in its first week. You could call it lucky, but predictable might be more accurate. As Sullivan quotes Patterson: "We are in the business of entertainment…"—Louisa Ermelino
Robert Crais's Crime Dog
Dog lovers will welcome Robert Crais's Suspect, which debuts at #3 on the Hardcover Fiction list. Maggie, a weapon-detecting German shepherd, was seriously traumatized in Afghanistan after an IED killed her human partner and she was shot by a sniper. LAPD officer Scott James was traumatized after unidentified gunmen killed his female partner and seriously wounded him. James resolves to get past Maggie's defenses to make her functional again. Craig, speaking of the bond he had with his own dog of 12 years, says: "It was out of respect for that very special relationship that I strove to present Maggie's world as accurately as our current understanding of canine behavior allows."
Crais has just completed a two-week national tour now, and has been interviewed about Suspect in USA Today, the Los Angeles Times, San Diego Union, Orange County Register, Dog Fancy Magazine, and CNN.com, among others. The book has received favorable reviews from the New York Times Book Review, Associated Press, the San Francisco Chronicle, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, and The Huffington Post. —Peter Cannon
The Obama Bump?
Having the ear of the president and his crowd can do wonders for sales. Methodist pastor Adam Hamilton gave the sermon at the 57th Inaugural Prayer Service at National Cathedral on Jan. 22 before President Obama, Vice-President Biden, and 2,200 others, among them cabinet members and senior administration officials. Hamilton's The Way: Walking in the Footsteps of Jesus (Abingdon, Dec.), debuts this week at #21 on our Hardcover Nonfiction list, with sales of 3,608 this week, bringing sales so far to over 12,000 at Nielsen outlets. The book uses historical and archeological information as well as faith stories to examine Jesus' life. Hamilton, senior pastor of United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kans., comes from the middle in more than just geography. He's also hardly an overnight success but has been running steadily under the radar, having published 15 books with total sales of more than a million; his heartland church has 16,000 members and is the largest in his denomination. "Hamilton's writing has reached a growing audience over the past 15 years," says Susan Salley, associate publisher at Abingdon. "The invitation preaching the National Prayer Service honors these years of work." Hamilton used his enviable platform to compliment Obama on the president's preacher-like speaking ability; he also said, "We're in need of a new common national vision— not one that is solely Democratic, or solely Republican." Amen.—Marcia Z. Nelson
A Revolutionary Diet?
Shred continues to top the Hardcover Nonfiction list, with Nielsen BookScan reporting sales of 26,000 copies in its fourth week. The book has gone from a diet to a national movement—being embraced by thousands of individuals, to large organizations, to entire city governments. On Jan. 31 the City of Atlanta Department of Human Resources launched "A Healthier You" employee wellness program, which featured a health fair and book reading with Smith. Said Mayor Kasim Reed, "I'm proud to launch this program, which will not only help employees reach their personal wellness goals, but promote the benefits of exercise and good nutrition as well. I encourage all employees to take part in the program."
In addition, Smith addressed the employees of Philadelphia's transit system (SEPTA) on Jan. 18, and was also contacted by Mayor Chris V. Rey of Spring Lake, N.C. (next to Fort Bragg), who wants to bring Shred to his community. In late January Smith spoke at Rick Warren's Lakewood Church in Houston—which has an average weekly attendance of 43,500—and continues to receive dozens of requests from churches around the country, where members are interested in taking up Shred as a group. Steve Harvey remains a major proponent of the diet—he's already lost nine pounds after just two weeks, praising the program on his radio and TV shows as well as via Twitter and Facebook. Other celebrities are also boarding the Shred bandwagon: "Real Housewife of Atlanta" Kandi Burruss has taken up the diet, as has Food Network star Sunny Anderson, who appeared Jan. 24 with Smith on The Rachael Ray Show.—Dick Donahue
Back in 2005, greeting card designer Nancy Tillman decided to try her hand at picture books. She self-published On the Night You Were Born, which celebrated the birth of babies throughout the animal kingdom; it sold 35,000 copies, primarily through the gift market. The following year Jean Feiwel signed her to a three-book deal for her new Feiwel and Friends list, with fairly spectacular results: Tillman now has more than five million books in print. The top-selling picture book on our list this week is a board-book edition of Tillman's Wherever You Are, My Love Will Find You, which was originally published in traditional hardcover format in 2010 and has sold 1.1 million copies. F&F released the board book last October, and 115,000 copies have been sold to date. It's the third Tillman picture book F&F has issued in board book format, with a fourth to come next January. And up next for Tillman is another picture book, I'd Know You Anywhere, My Love, due in September.