It's Lucas vs. Winfrey on this week's bestseller charts, as the Terry Brooks novelization of the new Star Wars saga, Star Wars: Episode I -- The Phantom Menace, jumps onto the top fiction spot, narrowly edging out White Oleander, Oprah's latest book club selection, which was announced May 6. According to Star Wars publisher Del Rey, avid fans have been struggling to choose among the novel's four different covers (see The Force Is Back, by George," PW, May 3) -- with many customers giving up and purchasing all four. The novel, which to no one's surprise has seized the top fiction slot at B&N, Borders, Waldenbooks and Amazon.com, has 1.3 million copies in print after two trips back to press. Not relying solely on the film's incredible publicity blitz, Del Rey will send bestselling author Brooks on a six-city tour starting May 24; media coverage includes appearances on Access Hollywood, CNN's Showbiz Today, a USA Today feature and lots more.
Also debuting on our list -- on the nonfiction side -- is DK's Star Wars: Episode I -- Incredible Cross-Sections, with more than one million copies in print. Author David West Reynolds, with illustrators Hans Jenssen and Richard Chasemore (collaborators on the publisher's fall 1998 title, Star Wars: Incredible Cross-Sections), present strikingly detailed views of such vehicles as Naboo Queen's Royal Starship, the famous Podracers and the Droid Control Ship (for which two fold-out pages create a 40" -- wide spread).
Ready for takeoff just below our top 15 are two more Force-full titles, Star Wars: Episode I -- What's What by Daniel Wallace and ...Who's Who by Ryder Windham. The unusual fact about these incipient bestsellers? At 3"x31/2", the Running Press duo would certainly be among the industry's smallest-ever chart-makers.
With the Lucas movie set to open Wednesday -- and with 10 related titles among the top 90 books on USA Today's bestseller list -- it seems a good bet that we haven't heard the last from this publishing Force.
THE LATEST FROM LB
George Lucas is evidently not the only one with the force on his side these days: after two successive Oprah Book Club picks, the folks at Little, Brown are almost as gleeful as the crowds lining up for The Phantom Menace. Last week we wrote about the talk-show host's most recent selection, White Oleander; two 100,000-copy printings since then have raised the in-print total to 850,000. In addition, the film sale for Janet Fitch's debut novel has set its own record: this marks the first time in which the publishing division of Time Warner, the motion picture division and a Warner Bros. -- affiliated producer (in this case John Wells, executive producer of the megahit TV series ER) have teamed financially on the acquisition and development of a literary property. As a final bit of icing on this White cake, LB reports that there are now 50,000 copies in stores of the book's six-hour, four-cassette audio version, read by none other than Ms. Winfrey herself. In another LB update, a sixth printing of Anita Shreve's The Pilot's Wife, the Oprah club selection that immediately preceded White Oleander, has brought that trade paperback's in-print total to 1.3 million.
'JOINING' THE BESTSELLERS
"The charm and appeal of her characters are infectious," wrote PW about bestselling romance novelist Johanna Lindsey, who's once again demonstrating those qualities in her latest work, Joining -- "a tale of passion and duty set in medieval England." After just under two weeks on sale, the Avon hardcover hits the list at #14; copies in print total 242,500 after two trips to press. Lindsey, whose writing career spans 24 years, boasts an impressive track record: each of her 34 novels has been a New York Times bestseller (with a majority hitting our charts as well), and five of them reached the #1 spot. There are more than 54 million copies of her novels in print, and they have been translated into 12 languages. Full-page ads for Lindsey's latest are running in Victoria, Redbook and Good Housekeeping.
With reporting by Dick Donahue.