Looking at 2012’s huge drop in the number of mass market bestsellers with sales of more than 500,000 copies is alarming. In 2012, only 26 titles hit that figure and only three in the group reached the million mark. Not that long ago—back in 2006—116 enjoyed sales of 500,000+ and that group had 26 one million+ players. In 2005, 40 books went over the million mark. The fall-off is dramatic even when we go back only one year—in 2011, we lamented that only 48 books hit the 500,000+ copy level and six of those made it to one million and more. The number of books that hit the weekly PW mass market charts also went down in 2012, to a record low of 196 titles. The record high was set in 2007 with 212 books making it to the weekly PW mass market bestsellers list.

There were certainly no surprises in who the winning authors were—George R.R. Martin leads the list with A Game of Thrones, and two more from the Fire and Ice series are among the 26 mass market bestsellers. The award-winning HBO fantasy series returns later this month for a third season, so sales should continue to climb for all of Martin’s titles. Nicholas Sparks has two in the top five, and movie tie-ins have also buoyed his sales. In fact, movies had a positive effect on a number of other books, including Tolkien’s The Hobbit and Lee Child’s One Shot. Familiar mass market icons are the only authors making it to the half-million mark. And while actual numbers are lower for most of their 2012 titles than in previous years, check out the very lengthy e-book list of 2012 sales (page 27) and you will find these regulars and their colleagues with numerous titles.

There was no dearth of trade paperback bestsellers in 2012, and in fact a record 121 books landed on the weekly PW charts, jumping the previous record of 84 books set in 2011. Trade paperbacks with sales of more than 100,000 sold numbered at 156 books; the 2011 figure was 119 books.

That’s all good news but not the big news. E.L. James took over the weekly charts with her Fifty Shades books and by the end of the year had more than 29 million copies sold for the three books and the trilogy. The books’ on-sale date was April 1 and the speed of sales broke all records ever set for a bestseller and it is highly unlikely that these numbers will ever again be matched. James’s books also whetted the appetite for other erotic titles, especially the books by Sylvia Day. She has two titles in the top eight, Bared to You and Reflected in You, making eroticism more than 50% of the top-10 trade paper bestsellers.

Nonetheless, the list continues to be eclectic, with commercial and literary titles throughout. Food for the soul and stomach are still strong performers on this chart.

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. Penguin USA and the Random House Book Group supplied numbers for ranking purposes only. Kensington declined to participate.

Mass Market


*A Game of Thrones (movie tie-in). George R.R. Martin. Bantam

The Lucky One. Nicholas Sparks. Grand Central (1,039,167)

*Chasing Fire. Nora Roberts. Jove


*A Clash of Kings (movie tie-in). George R.R.

Martin. Bantam

Safe Haven. Nicholas Sparks. Grand Central (949,713)


*A Storm of Swords. George R.R. Martin. Bantam

*The Hobbit (movie tie-in). J.R.R. Tolkien. Ballantine

*The Litigators. John Grisham. Dell

*A Feast for Crows. George R.R. Martin. Bantam


To Kill a Mockingbird. Harper Lee. Grand Central (745,975)

*Live Wire. Harlan Coben. Signet

*Red Mist. Patricia Cornwell. Berkley

*Buried Prey. John Sandford. Berkley


Kill Alex Cross. James Patterson. Grand Central (565,363)

*Split Second. Catherine Coulter. Jove

Micro. Michael Crichton. Harper (533,740)

*The Jungle. Clive Cussler. Berkley


*Shock Wave. John Sandford. Berkley

*One Shot: A Jack Reacher Novel (movie tie-in). Lee Child. Dell

What Doesn’t Kill You. Iris Johansen. St. Martin’s Paperbacks (511,400)

*Hotel Vendome. Danielle Steel. Dell

*V Is for Vengeance. Sue Grafton. Berkley

*The Devil Colony. James Rollin. Harper (503,648)

*Down the Darkest Road. Tami Hoag. Berkley

*Locked On. Tom Clancy. Berkley

*Catch Me. Lisa Gardner. Signet

Trade Paperback

29 Million+ for 50 Shades

*Fifty Shades of Grey: Book One. E.L. James. Vintage

*Fifty Shades Darker: Book Two. E.L. James. Vintage

*Fifty Shades Freed: Book Three. E.L. James. Vintage


*Fifty Shades Trilogy Bundle: 3-volume Boxed Set. E.L. James. Vintage

*Bared to You. Sylvia Day. Berkley

*Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife. Eben Alexander. Simon & Schuster (755,861)


The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Stephen Chbosky. Gallery (648,413)

*Reflected in You. Sylvia Day. Berkley

To Heaven and Back: A Doctor’s Extraordinary Account of Her Death, Heaven, Angels, and Life Again: A True Story. Mary C. Neal, M.D. WaterBrook Press (617,648)

The Lucky One. Nicholas Sparks. Grand Central (602,785)


*The Perfect Hope. Nora Robert. Berkley

The Great Gatsby. F. Scott Fitzgerald. Scribner (552,139)

The Hobbit (Movie Tie-in). J.R.R. Tolkien. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (509,179)

*The Last Boyfriend. Nora Robert. Berkley


Safe Haven. Nicholas Sparks. Grand Central (451,308)

Bossypants. Tina Fey. L,B/Reagan Arthur (449,935)

What to Expect When You’re Expecting, Fourth Edition. Heidi Murkoff and Sharon Mazel. Workman (428,323)

The Best of Me. Nicholas Sparks. Grand Central (413,842)

*The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest: Book 3 of the Millennium Trilogy. Steig Larsson. Vintage


*The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. Rebecca Skloot. Broadway

*In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin. Erik Larson. Broadway

*Cloud Atlas (Movie Tie-in). David Mitchell.

Random House

Not a Fan: Becoming a Completely Committed Follower of Jesus. Kyle Idleman. Zondervan (358,000)

The Happiness Project. Gretchen Rubin. Harper Paperbacks (340,000)

Fahrenheit 451: A Novel. Ray Bradbury. Simon & Schuster (326,193)

The Magic. Rhonda Byrne. Atria (315,373)

Life of Pi, Movie Tie-in Edition. Yann Martell. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (308,356)

*Wreck This Journal: Expanded Edition. Keri Smith. Perigee

Private London. James Patterson and Mark Pearson. Grand Central (307,805)

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Seth Grahame-Smith. Grand Central (306,338)


*Of Men and Men. John Steinbeck. Penguin

The Hobbit. J.R.R. Tolkien. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (254,529)

Lone Wolf. Jodi Picoult. Emily Bestler Books (244,159)

Team of Rivals: Lincoln Film Tie-In Edition. Doris Kearns Goodwin. Simon & Schuster (238,267)

Beautiful Disaster. Jamie McGuire. Atria (233,854)

Eat to Live (Revised). Dr. Jack Fuhrman. Little, Brown (231,834)

*The Night Circus. Erin Morgenstern. Vintage

Hungry Girl to the Max! The Ultimate Guilt-Free Cookbook. Lisa Lillien. St. Martin’s Paperbacks (224,444)

*The Paris Wife. Paula McLain. Ballantine

State of Wonder. Ann Patchett. Harper Paperbacks (221,000)

Nearing Home: Life, Faith, and Finishing Well. Billy Graham. Thomas Nelson (220,788)

*The Tiger’s Wife: A Novel. Tea Obreht. Random House

*World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War. Max Brooks. Broadway

Unlikely Friendships: 47 Remarkable Stories from the Animal Kingdom. Jennifer Holland. Workman (214,453)

Kill Alex Cross. James Patterson. Grand Central (212,976)

The Things They Carried. Tim O’Brien. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (210,437)

*The Language of Flowers: A Novel. Vanessa

Diffenbaugh. Random House

7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change. Stephen R. Covey. Free Press (203,352)

The Innocent. David Baldacci. Grand Central (202,574)

*The Weird Sisters. Eleanor Brown. Berkley

The Art of Racing Rain. Garth Stein. Harper Paperbacks (200,000)


10th Anniversary. James Patterson and Maxine Paetro. Grand Central (199,606)

Outliers: The Story of Success. Malcolm Gladwell. L,B/Back Bay (193,077)

Battlefield of the Mind: Winning the Battle in Your Mind. Joyce Meyer. Faith Words (192,969)

American Heiress. Daisy Goodwin. St. Martin’s Paperbacks (191,697)

11/22/63. Stephen King. Gallery (189,560)

*Things Fall Apart. Chinua Achebe. Vintage

The Fiddler. Beverly Lewis. Bethany House (187,771)

A Stolen Life: A Memoir. Jaycee Dugard. Simon & Schuster (185,452)

Save Me. Lisa Scottoline. St. Martin’s Paperbacks (185,137)

*The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead. Max Brooks. Broadway

What to Expect the First Year, 2nd Edition. Sandee Hathaway, Arlene Eisenberg, Heidi Murkoff. Workman (182,514)

Now You See Her. James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge. Grand Central (175,480)

Guilty Wives. James Patterson and David Ellis. Grand Central (175,277)

*The House on Mango Street. Sandra Cisneros. Vintage


The Bridesmaid. Beverly Lewis. Bethany House (169,870)

*The Girl Who Played with Fire: Book 2 of the Millennium Trilogy. Steig Larsson. Vintage

*A Game of Thrones (Movie Tie-in). George R.R. Martin. Bantam

Brave New World. Aldous Huxley. Harper Paperbacks (165,000)

Then Came You. Jennifer Weiner. Washington Square Press (162,482)

Every Day a Friday: How to be Happy 7 Days a Week. Joel Osteen. Faith Words (162,474)

*The Devil in the White City. Erik Larson. Vintage


*Maine. J. Courtney Sullivan. Vintage

Kitchen House: A Novel. Kathleen Grissom. Touchstone (156,375)

Zero Day. David Baldacci. Grand Central (155,557)

The Host (Movie Tie-In). Stephenie Meyer. Little, Brown (152,164)

Kill Me if You Can. James Patterson and Marshall Karp. Grand Central (151,439)

The Wind Through the Keyhole: A Dark Tower Novel. Stephen King,. Gallery (151,422)


The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Lives. Wes Moore. Spiegel and Grau (143,311)

The Lord of the Rings, One-Volume Movie Tie-in Edition. J.R.R. Tolkien Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (148,796)

*The Sense of an Ending. Julian Barnes. Vintage

The Dovekeepers. Alice Hoffman. Scribner (148,715)

The Glass Castle: A Memoir. Jeannette Walls. Scribner (147,105)

Crucial Conversations Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High, Second Edition. Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler. McGraw-Hill (146,252)

*Rules of Civility. Amor Towles. Penguin

*Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle. The Countess of Carnarvon. Broadway

The Art of Fielding: A Novel. Chad Harbach. Little, Brown (142,284)


*Into the Wild. John Krakauer. Vintage

7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens. Sean Covey. Touchstone (138,385)

Sarah’s Key. Tatiana De Rosnay. St. Martin’s Paperbacks (138,064)

Lethal. Sandra Brown. Grand Central (137,992)

Rainshadow Road. Lisa Kleypas. St. Martin’s Paperbacks (137,114)

*The Litigators. John Grisham. Bantam

*Sharp Objects: A Novel. Gillian Flynn. Broadway

What’s New Cupcake? Ingeniously Simple Designs for Every Occasion. Karen Tack and Alan Richardson. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (134,158)

*Dark Places: A Novel. Gillian Flynn. Broadway

The Shack: Where Tragedy Confronts Eternity. William Paul Young. Windblown Media (130,790)

The Kite Runner. Khaled Hosseini. Riverhead (130,749)

*Born to Run. Christopher McDougall. Vintage


Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream. David Platt. Multnomah Books (129,419)

The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven. Kevin & Alex Malarkey. Tyndale (128,605)

Hunger Pains: A Parody. The Harvard Lampoon. Touchstone (128,285)

The Drop. Michael Connelly. Grand Central (127,962)

Alex Cross (Movie Tie-in). James Patterson. Grand Central (127,423)

Wolf Hall: A Novel. Hilary Mantel. Picador (127,281)

To Kill a Mockingbird. Lee Harper. Harper Paperbacks (127,000)

The Chew: Food, Life, Fun. The Chew Team. Hyperion (125,517)

Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, The Most Powerful Indian Tribe. S.C. Gwynne. Scribner (124,485)

Seal Team Six: Memoirs of an Elite Navy Seal Sniper. Howard E. Wasdin. St. Martin’s Paperbacks (124,289)

How to Read Literature Like a Professor. Thomas C. Foster. Harper Paperbacks (124,000)

Forks Over Knives—The Cookbook. Del Sroufe. The Experiment (123,419)

Their Eyes Are Watching God. Zora Neale Hurston. Harper Paperbacks (123,000)

Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln. Doris Kearns Goodwin. Simon & Schuster (122,560)


Seriously...I’m Kidding. Ellen DeGeneres. Grand Central (119,776)

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Messages from Heaven. Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, and Amy Newmark. Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing (119,433)

The Fellowship of the Ring. J.R.R. Tolkien. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (119,314)

Unglued: Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions. Lysa TerKeurst. Zondervan (118,600)

*Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. Carol Dweck. Ballantine

The Two Towers. J.R.R. Tolkien. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (115,011)

Anything He Wants. Sara Fawkes. St. Martin’s Paperbacks (114,778)

The Return of the King. J.R.R. Tolkien. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (114,359)

*Tuesdays with Morrie: An Old Man, a Young Man, and Life’s Greatest Lesson. Mitch Albom. Broadway

*The Eighty-Dollar Champion: The Horse that Inspired a Nation. Elizabeth Letts. Ballantine

How to Win Friends and Influence People. Dale Carnegie. Gallery (113,797)

Private Games. James Patterson and Mark Sullivan. Grand Central (113,594)

*Home Again. Kristin Hannah. Ballantine

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns). Mindy Kaling. Three Rivers Press (112,333)

*A Clash of Kings (Movie Tie-in). George R.R. Martin. Bantam

The Shoemaker’s Wife. Adriana Trigiani. Harper Paperbacks (111,000)

*Cutting for Stone. Abraham Verghese. Vintage

*Half the Sky. Nicholas D. Kristoff and Sheryl WuDunn. Vintage

Lady of the Rivers. Philippa Gregory. Touchstone (109,052)

*The Road (Oprah’s Book Club). Cormac McCarthy. Vintage

Switch. Megan Hart. Harlequin Mira (107,396)

Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking. Malcolm Gladwell. L,B/Back Bay (106,563)

The House I Loved. Tatiana De Rosnay. St. Martin’s Paperbacks (105,479)

The Old Man and the Sea. Ernest Hemingway. Scribner (104,411)

One Summer. David Baldacci. Grand Central (104,307)

Sumer Rental. Mary Kay Andrews. St. Martin’s Paperbacks (103,162)

The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment. Eckhart Tolle. New World Library (103,000)

Love Does. Discover A Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World. Bob Goff. Thomas Nelson (102,958)

Dream Lake. Lisa Kleypas. St. Martin’s (102,443)

The Marriage Plot: A Novel. Jeffrey Eugenides. Picador (102,271)

Forks Over Knives: The Plant-Based Way to Health. Gene Stone. The Experiment (101,726)

Pleasures of the Night. Sylvia Day. Morrow (101,569)

The Book of Burger. Rachael Ray. Atria (100,397)

Speed of Trust: The One Thing that Changes Everything. Stephen M.R. Covey. Free Press (101,171)

Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know. Alexandra Horowitz. Scribner (100,662)

*Sisterhood Everlasting. Ann Brashares. Random House

Freakonomics. Steven D. Leavitt. Morrow (100,353)

The Heaven Answer Book. Billy Graham. Thomas Nelson (100,224)

Picture This. Jacqueline Sheehan. William Morrow (100,001)