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The Royals' Royalties
Daisy Maryles -- 9/29/97
It's been an awesome week in the marketplace for Kitty Kelley and Warner Books, even while her newest title, The Royals, was being trashed in the media for both content and timing, coming so soon after the tragic death of Princess Di. (In fact. the timing was pure coincidence; publication had been set earlier in the year for September 23.) First printing was one million copies, a number that certainly jibed with both Americans' keen interest in the House of Windsor and the strength of Kelley's earlier works. Indeed, several of Kelley's titles have topped the charts during their first week in the stores, including her most recent blockbusters, Nancy Reagan: The Unauthorized Biography (1991) and His Way: The Unauthorized Biography of Frank Sinatra (1986). The Reagan book has a 12-week tenure on PW's hardcover nonfiction chart, with half that time in the #1 slot; Sinatra's book had a 20-week run, seven as the front-runner. While many are wondering how long and how intense the interest will be for The Royals, it has already become the fastest nonfiction book out of the gate this year. In fact, the only other hardcover published in 1997 that had a stronger first week was John Grisham's The Partner (Doubleday). One has to go back to mid-September 1996 for a hardcover with stronger first-week sales. Not surprisingly, that was Make the Connection by Oprah Winfrey with Bob Greene (Hyperion). At Barnes &Noble and Waldenbooks, Kelley's unit sales were more than the combined sales were more than the combined sales of the next 10 top nonfiction books. With more than 900,000 copies already shipped and billed, Warner has gone back to press for -- so far -- 1.2 million copies. No wonder that at a party for Kelley last week, Warner president/publisher/COO Maureen Egen presented the author with a magnificently bejeweled Judith Leiber Kitty-cat bag.

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