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Questioning Union Influence And Obama's "Leadership"

Two provocative political titles arrive in time for the conventions

Debuting at #3 on our Nonfiction list, Mallory Factor's Shadowbosses investigates the link between government union bosses and liberal politicians. Political commentator and Forbes columnist Factor, the John C. West Professor of International Politics and American Government at the Citadel, has already made numerous appearances on Fox News staples such as Fox & Friends and Hannity, as well as making the rounds of conservative talk radio. September will bring events at the Cato Institute and the St. Louis's Eagle Forum. Factor connects problems with the national debt, k-12 education, state finances, and "Obamacare" to the growth of government employee unions, which Factor argues are corrupt, inefficient, and overpaid. Among the book's promised revelations is Factor's suggestion that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will unionize 21 million healthcare workers during Obama's second term. Harry Helm, v-p and associate publisher of Center Street, says: "We've been very excited about Shadowbosses from day one. Not only to be working with such dedicated authors as Mallory and [co-author] Elizabeth Factor but most importantly because of the book's important message. That the book has reached bestseller status speaks everything about the need for this book at this time in our nation's history."

Arguing from the same side of the aisle is Richard Miniter's Leading from Behind, which debuts at #13. Bestselling author and (again) Forbes columnist Miniter (Shadow War) says that Obama is unwilling to truly lead, and that his political victories should be attributed to powerful women, primarily then-speaker Nancy Pelosi, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and advisor and family friend Valerie Jarrett. The idea of President Obama "leading from behind" was recently invoked to great applause by Condoleezza Rice during her speech at the Republican National Convention. Minister's book is receiving major press for its claim that Obama cancelled the bin Laden mission three times, mainly due to Jarrett's influence, and that Hillary Clinton was the real driver behind the successful Navy SEAL raid. St. Martin's editor-in-chief George Witte says, "We bought Leading from Behind with the expectation of making news and bestselling from publication through the election and the holiday season. With the assistance of the public relations firm Javelin, we coordinated a strategic publicity launch that began with Sean Hannity's television show as well as The Drudge Report, along with other national television appearances, dozens of national radio shows, and a comprehensive blog and Internet campaign. We also worked closely with the author to update and expand his own social media, so that he could more effectively engage with his existing fan base and attract new readers. We'll continue to take advantage of new publicity opportunities, including the Republican and Democrat conventions, the forthcoming No Easy Day [the firsthand account of the Bin Laden raid publishing next week], and other election-related issues, to keep the book fresh in the public eye for months to come."—Jessamine Chan

Pick of The Orchardist

Amanda Coplin's winning debut

We pride ourselves with having an eye for good books (it's our business) and we hit the jackpot with Amanda Coplin's The Orchardist, which just arrived on the Fiction list at #20. We picked Coplin's debut novel, about two young sisters who arrive pregnant at an orchard in the Pacific Northwest in the early part of the 20th century, for our Aug. 20 Tip Sheet but we were on to it long before that. Featured among our First Fiction picks for the fall in our July 2 issue, star reviewed as "immensely affecting," we also put it on our Fall announcements' Top Ten literary Fiction list. Of course, we did have the heads-up from HarperCollins's venerable Jane Beirn, who hand carried it to us early on and insists that the book was a house favorite from the moment it arrived in manuscript. Coplin was interviewed in newspapers and on NPR, and the novel was praised in reviews across the country. After a first print run of 20,000, The Orchardist's been back to press five times. To date, according to Beirn, there are 32,000 copies in print. Coplin, 31, was born in Washington State and raised on her grandfather's orchard, which must account for her "strikingly beautiful" (as noted in PW's review) portrayal of the landscape. The novel, she told PW, "is a sort of love letter to that place, and an homage to my grandfather, who was my best friend when I was a child." Coplin's touring the West Coast after Labor Day and then, we can only hope, will return home to Portland to write another bestseller.—Louisa Ermelino

Bio of Legend, Tale of Scandal

Posnanski's Paterno

Debuting at #1 on the Nonfiction list this week is Joe Posnanski's Paterno, capping off a year of headlines about the sex scandal at Penn State. Regionally, areas of Pennsylvania saw the highest sales, with five of the top six areas coming from the state. The top sales areas were: Philadelphia, Harrisburg-York-Lancaster-Lebanon, Johnstown-Altoona, Wilkes-Barre-Scranton, Pittsburgh, and New York City.

Posnanski was authorized to follow coach Joe Paterno for the writing of the biography and was already doing his research when the story about the scandal broke. The book covers Paterno's entire life and the scandal only comprises part of the text. The S&S title benefited from nationwide coverage, especially in the weeks leading up to pub date: a first serial excerpt appeared in GQ and a Posnanski column for USA Today, and an interview with Matt Lauer on the Today show. Coverage has extended past traditional news outlets to the sports world, including multiple stories about the book on ESPN's home page; Posnanski was also a guest on Costas Tonight on Aug. 29,where he expressed "qualms" about the Louis Freeh investigation. Tour appearances for Posnanski are slated for Philadelphia, St. Louis, College Station, Pa., and Kansas City. S&S's print run for Paterno is 125,000 with two trips to press. —Gabe Habash.

Feline Phenom

Back in 2008, Atlanta artist James Dean, known for his paintings of a blue cat named Pete, teamed up with children's musician Eric Litwin and self-published Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes, in which the singing, sneaker-wearing Pete struts his stuff. HarperCollins sales rep Eric Svenson brought the picture book to the attention of the children's team back in New York. "We all saw the potential from the beginning," says editor Margaret Anastas. There are currently three books starring Pete; due out this fall is Pete the Cat Saves Christmas—Harper is printing 150,000 copies and sending Dean and Litwin on a multicity tour in November. Pete will soon extend into other formats, too, with two I Can Read titles due this winter, and a paper-over-board rendition of "The Wheels on the Bus" next summer.

Each Pete the Cat book comes with a downloadable song that ties into the story, and when the pair tours, Litwin plays his guitar and performs the songs. Anastas points to the books' musical nature as a key part of their appeal. And because Pete existed as a character before he ever starred in picture books, the art style is eye-catching and unusual for the genre, she says; "I think people see it and feel like they're getting something different." Anastas also cites Pete's "can-do" attitude as a draw. "He's laid back but has such an amazing spirit. His energy is irresistible."

The three Pete the Cat books have collectively sold just over 225,000 copies at outlets tracked by Nielsen BookScan. —Diane Roback