With 160 confirmed kills, Navy SEAL Chris Kyle was the most lethal sniper in United States military history, and—in his enemies' eyes—the most feared: Iraqi insurgents christened him the Devil of Ramadi and put a hefty bounty on his head. He was deployed four times, and saw combat in many if not all of the critical engagements of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He survived six distinct IED explosions and being shot twice, and he was awarded two Silver Star Medals and five Bronze Star Medals with Valor. After retiring from the Navy in 2009 at the age of 34, Kyle spent his days in his native Texas with his wife and two kids, and dedicated himself to helping veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan cope with the trauma of war. One of the ways he'd do that was to take vets struggling with PTSD to a nearby shooting range to let off some steam and a few rounds. On Saturday, Feb. 2, one of those vets—25-year-old Eddie Ray Routh—turned on Kyle and his friend Chad Littlefield, and shot and killed them both. It was a tragic and abrupt end for a man who thought he had left the dangers of battle behind.
Just days before Kyle was murdered, Harper released the mass market edition of his autobiography, American Sniper; the hardcover version—published by Morrow—debuted at #2 on our Hardcover Nonfiction bestseller list in January 2012 and eventually ousted Walter Isaacson's Steve Jobs from the top spot. Sharyn Rosenblum, the senior director of media relations for Morrow/Harper, explains the book's appeal: "American Sniper gave [Kyle] a platform to shine a much-needed spotlight on his fellow veterans. That was what was most important to him—to share this with his fellow veterans and their families, for the rest of us to understand the sacrifices they make every day." Though current numbers in this week's list only reflect sales leading up to the morning of Kyle's death, the enduring popularity of the book—along with a constant output of soldier memoirs to whet America's appetite for ground-level wartime narratives—propelled the title to #17 on our Mass Market list. Rosenblum expects that in the weeks to come, news coverage of Kyle's killing and "the overwhelming public outpouring of grief" will draw many more to the book. In preparation, the Morrow/Harper team is reprinting 200,000 additional copies in both the hardcover and mass market formats.
In our Spring 2013 Announcements issue (Jan. 28), we chose Kyle's forthcoming American Gun: A History of the U.S. in Ten Firearms as one of our top 10 picks in the History & Military History categories. Rosenblum told PW that Morrow has "the full support of the Kyle family and friends," and they plan to hold fast to the May 14 pub date. Co-author William Doyle will finish up the manuscript, though there's been no word yet whether the 500,000-copy announced first printing will be increased. - Samuel R. Slaton
Last week, at outlets tracked by Nielsen, 4,013 people bought a copy of Insane City, Dave Barry's new novel about a destination wedding gone horribly wrong. It was enough to claim the #15 slot on our Hardcover Fiction list in its first week. A week and a half ago, at Bookends in Ridgewood, N.J., Barry kicked off a 15-city author tour that includes events at Book People in Austin, Tex., and Live Talks Los Angeles, where he'll be interviewed by Matt Groening. Barry has also done the Today Show, Morning Joe, and on radio: On Point, Bob Edwards, and Mancow in Chicago. Barry will soon take the Big Blue Barry Bus® (I imagine) to Atlanta for an event at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum (where, one assumes, Barry will have no trouble finding something funny to say). On Valentine's Day, he'll breakfast in Atlanta and sup in Savannah, at the Book Festival, where he'll hold court at a sold-out 1,100-seat venue. At Putnam's Twitter hashtag #InsaneCity, people are sharing photos of Barry reading his book, signing his book, hiding behind his book, and generally cracking people up all across the country. —Mike Harvkey
Author as Moviemaker
Add yet another movie tie-in to our Jan. 28 "Lights, Camera, Read!" article—in this case from megaselling author Nicholas Sparks. Grand Central's Safe Haven, which was originally published back in September 2010, has sold 554,032 hardcover copies to date, according to BookScan; mass market and trade paper tie-in editions have sold 86,901 and 79,037 copies, respectively, since December publication. The movie's directed by two-time Oscar-nominated Lasse Halström, with a cast that includes Julianne Hough and Josh Duhamel.
The film version of Safe Haven, which opens on Valentine's Day, is the latest in the author's book-to-film adaptations. The first, 1999's Message in a Bottle, starred Paul Newman, Kevin Costner, and Robin Wright; it was followed by A Walk to Remember, in 2002. Other Sparks tie-ins—eight in all, including Safe Haven—are The Notebook (2004), Nights in Rodanthe (2008), Dear John, and The Last Song (2010), and last year's The Lucky One.
On the literary front, Sparks has written 18 books, with a new one due this fall. The in-print total of his oeuvre stands at 80 million copies worldwide, including some 50 million copies in the U.S.. His most recent hardcover, The Best of Me, has sold 520,874 copies since its October 2011 printing.
Last December Grand Central published the first ever enhanced e-book by Sparks, for Safe Haven, which features interviews with the author, Duhamel, and Hough on the making of the movie, along with storyboards, sneak peeks of the set, photo stills from the film, behind-the-scenes footage, along with seven videos—including three that are exclusive to the enhanced e-book and four never-before-released clips from the film.
Few video game franchises are as beloved as Nintendo's The Legend of Zelda, which has sold over 65 million games since it first hit game consoles in 1986. In 2011, to celebrate the series' 25th anniversary, Nintendo and Shogakukan Co. published (in Japan only) The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia, a treasure trove of hitherto unseen ancillary material, leading up to the Japanese release of the latest entry to the game series, The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword. The book contains roughly 250 pages of rare behind-the-scenes goodies like concept and production art from all of the series' games, interviews including Zelda creator (and Nintendo godfather) Shigeru Miyamoto and series producer Eiji Aonuma, a new comic by longtime Zelda mangaka Akira Himekawa, and the hallowed "Zelda timeline," which lays out the famously secret continuity of the entire series.
Since the book's initial publication, fans outside Japan eagerly awaited an officially translated, worldwide release. Their prayers were answered in August 2012 when Oregon-based Dark Horse Comics and Nintendo announced a 250,000-copy print run (grown to nearly 400,000 since then to meet demand) for North America, Europe, and Australia, with a pub date of January 29, 2013. That day, a surge of preorders catapulted the book to the top of Amazon's U.S. sales charts, knocking off then champion Fifty Shades of Grey. Since then it's remained in the online retailer's top 100, finally retaking the top spot upon its release. Debuting at #1 on our Hardcover Nonfiction charts this week, Hyrule Historia has proven to be the highly sought after collector's item and sales juggernaut it was destined to be.—Matt White
Call it the Caldecott effect: newly minted gold medalist Jon Klassen's This Is Not My Hat, which had seen respectable sales since its October 2012 publication, has gotten a huge post-award bump. The title, a companion to 2011's bestselling I Want My Hat Back, has claimed the #8 spot on this week's Picture Book bestseller list—the first list issued since the award announcement was made. This Is Not My Hat sold 6,784 copies last week, compared with 802 the previous week, escalating year-to-date sales to 10,206 and total sales to 41,793, in the outlets tracked by Nielsen BookScan. PW spoke with Klassen the day he got the call from the award committee—two calls, actually, since his illustrations for Mac Barnett's Extra Yarn received a Caldecott Honor—and found the author already hard at work on his next projects: a second collaboration with Barnett, and a book that may or may not be the third Hat title. Next up: the March release The Dark, illustrated for Lemony Snicket, which is already garnering good buzz. Klassen may have been understating things just a bit when he said, "It's been kind of a busy year."—Carolyn Juris