Big Children’s Hits Out of the Gate

It’s been a busy few weeks in children’s books, with the release of several novels with huge first-week sales—most of them additions to blockbuster franchises. First came The House of Hades, book four in Rick Riordan’s Heroes of Olympus series. It pubbed on October 8, selling 349,402 copies in its first week on the Nielsen BookScan charts. Next up: Allegiant, which concluded Veronica Roth’s YA Divergent trilogy, with 225,025 copies sold through Nielsen in the week following its October 22 release. Radio host Rush Limbaugh entered the children’s arena a week later, on October 29, with the middle-grade novel Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims, based on a character used by Limbaugh to sell his Two If by Tea line of iced teas; first-week sales through Nielsen were 158,005. And the most recent one is the biggest of them all: Hard Luck, Jeff Kinney’s eighth Wimpy Kid adventure, which arrived on November 5; Nielsen reported 387,347 copies sold in the first week, and publisher Abrams announced that first-week sales were 1.3 million worldwide, in all formats.

Other than The House of Hades, no children’s or YA title released this year had first-week sales higher than 200,000 copies. The previous Wimpy Kid book, The Third Wheel, sold 357,231 copies in its first week, back in November 2012. And Riordan’s earlier Heroes of Olympus title, The Mark of Athena, debuted with 236,737 copies sold for the week ended Oct. 7, 2012.—Diane Roback

Five Books for Cussler in 2013

Mirage by Clive Cussler, with Jack Du Brul, debuts at #2 on our Hardcover Fiction list this week. In this ninth Oregon Files adventure, Juan Cabrillo and the crew of the Oregon set out to solve a mystery involving the disappearance of a U.S. destroyer in 1943, experiments in electromagnetic radiation, and a corrupt Russian admiral who has developed a weapon that could alter the fate of nations.

Cussler is the author or coauthor of more than 50 previous books in five bestselling series, including Dirk Pitt, NUMA Files, Oregon Files, Isaac Bell, and Fargo. His nonfiction works include Built for Adventure: The Classic Automobiles of Clive Cussler and Dirk Pitt, plus The Sea Hunters and The Sea Hunters II; these describe the true adventures of the real National Underwater Marine Agency, which, led by Cussler, searches for lost ships of historic significance. With his crew of volunteers, Cussler has discovered more than 75 ships, including (in 1995) the long-lost Confederate submarine Hunley. He lives in Arizona and Colorado.

Du Brul is the author of the Philip Mercer series and the coauthor with Cussler of the Oregon Files novels Dark Watch, Skeleton Coast, Plague Ship, Corsair, The Silent Sea, and The Jungle. He lives in Vermont.

Mirage is the fifth hardcover Cussler book from Putnam to appear in 2013, including the 40th anniversary edition of The Mediterranean Caper, which was first published in 1973 as a paperback original.—Peter Cannon

Behind the Headlines: Influential Political Analysts Make Sense of the 2012 Presidential Election

Entering our Hardcover Nonfiction bestseller list at #4, political analysts Mark Halperin and John Heilemann follow up their 2010 bestseller, Game Change, with the much-anticipated Double Down: Game Change 2012. Their latest has already been optioned by HBO, whose film adaptation of Game Change won multiple Emmy and Golden Globe awards, including best TV movie/miniseries. Penguin Press touts the book, based on more than 500 interviews with key players—the candidates, their spouses, their advisers, and major donors— as a “riveting chronicle of ambition, fame, wealth, betrayal, and regret.” Halperin (an editor-at-large and senior political analyst for Time magazine and senior political analyst for MSNBC) and Heilemann (national affairs editor for New York magazine and political analyst for MSNBC) have already visited Washington, D.C.; Seattle; San Francisco; Los Angeles; New York City; and Austin, Tex., on their book tour, with upcoming appearances in Chicago; Atlanta; Miami; Philadelphia; and Boston. The first serial cover story appeared on November 4 in New York magazine, and the authors made same-day appearances on NBC’s Today show, Morning Joe, The View, Inside Edition, Andrea Mitchell Reports, CNN’s Jake Tapper, The O’Reilly Factor, and Hardball with Chris Matthews. That week also saw the authors on Charlie Rose, HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher, NPR’s On Point, NBC’s Meet the Press, and ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopolous. Given the recent government shutdown and record-low voter turnout for the midterm elections, perhaps savvy political readers are nostalgic for the relative order of 2012.—Jessamine Chan

The Joker’s Return

Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo hit PW’s Hardcover Fiction bestseller list for the second time with the third collection of their Batman series, Batman: Death of the Family, coming in this week at #21. The title is a play on a classic Batman story from 1989, “A Death in the Family,” in which Batman’s then-Robin, Jason Todd, was killed by the Joker. The Joker himself went missing in the first issue of the Snyder/Capullo run, and in this story he comes back with a hideous stapled-on face and unveils a twisted scheme to destroy Batman’s closest friends and family. It’s a disturbing yet clever take on the central Batman-Joker antagonism that has informed many of the best Batman stories, including The Killing Joke, a 1988 graphic novel by Alan Moore and Brian Bolland, and of course Heath Ledger’s phenomenal turn in The Dark Knight movie.

Previous volumes in the Snyder/Capullo series have also had healthy sales. Batman: Court of Owls has sold 27,876 in hardcover and 13,132 in the paperback edition, while City of Owls has sold 17,582 in hardcover to date. (The paperback edition was released last month.) Besides The Killing Joke, Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns is another Batman backlist perennial. After only a couple of years, Snyder’s version of the Caped Crusader has earned its own permanent spot on the graphic novel bestseller lists. —Heidi MacDonald

Mining the Past

The Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan’s huge bestselling debut novel, published in 1989, was the beginning of a career of bestsellers. Her new novel, The Valley of Amazement, arrives on our Hardcover Fiction list at #7, with 16,967 copies sold in its first week. Tan is noted for her exploration of the relationships between mothers and daughters, and the experience of Chinese immigrants and their ancestors. The Joy Luck Club was inspired by Tan’s discovery that her mother had a previous marriage in China, and that she had other children. The Valley of Amazement, like Tan’s debut, also has a discovery behind it. Tan came across a photo of courtesans in Shanghai in 1910 and was intrigued when she realized there was a photo of her grandmother dressed in the same type of clothing. The combination of a series of what-ifs and Tan’s fertile imagination and obsession led her to abandon the book she was working on and begin this one. Fans should get ready for Tan’s first book with sex scenes. In an interview earlier this year (Author Profile, Aug. 12), she jokingly referred to The Valley of Amazement as “Fifty Shades of Tan.” According to Michael McKenzie, senior director of publicity at Ecco, there are 200,000 copies in print, and her 20-city tour is in full swing, with crowds in the hundreds showing up to see her. Tan has famously said that her mother wanted her to become a doctor and be a concert pianist on the side. Maybe in her next life.—Louisa Ermelino