Behind the Bestsellers
Daisy Maryles -- 12/20/99

Indies' Prized Stars

Two literary novels -- Waiting and Disgrace -- are doing very well at independent bookstores and are also beginning to show up on the lists of the national chains; they would make PW's hardcover fiction chart if it went to 25. Both books have appeared on many regional bestseller lists. Waiting by Ha Jin, winner of the 1999 National Book Award for fiction, is benefiting from that accolade. To continue the wave of enthusiastic handselling after the award, Pantheon is sending first novelist Jin on a 10-city reading and signing tour. First printing for the October novel was 9,000 copies and, now, five trips later, the book has about 99,000 copies in print. National media interest also continues to grow; upcoming interviews are scheduled for the New York Times Magazine, NPR's Weekend Edition and on CNN International.

J.M. C tzee's Disgrace was originally scheduled for February 2000, but when it was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, Viking rushed it into press just in case. When it won at the end of October, the publisher got copies into stores nationwide by the week of November 8. First printing was 13,000 copies; by mid-December, after nine printings, that figure had grown to 75,000 copies. These sales have been driven by the prize as well as terrific reviews, since the author never d s interviews or readings.

Cussler Sails to the Top
Clive Cussler's 15th book featuring Dirk Pitt, Atlantis Found (his first was published in 1973), lands on the top of the PW list after just one week in the stores. Putnam's first printing was 750,000 and it launched the book with a 10-city tour. Fans aged 12 to 82 waited on line for hours at each stop for the personalized inscription for which Cussler is famous. He also did live online chats and a 20-city satellite tour. His publishing stats are impressive; his books have been published in more than 40 languages in more than 100 countries and his publisher estimates that he has a readership of more than 90 million fans.

No Ceiling on Price
The nationwide prosperity making this a strong Christmas for high-ticket items is also evident on the national bestseller charts, with many books at the $50+ level selling in huge quantities. One $75 book -- Women by Annie Leibovitz, with an essay by Susan Sontag -- is just below our top 15 nonfiction titles, another sign that price is not an issue for quality items. Random House's first printing for the book, which includes 123 portraits of women from a broad spectrum of society, was 125,000 copies. Sales have been so good that a second printing of 25,000 is on order for delivery in late January.

Morrie's Own Words
While Tuesdays with Morrie continues to set sales records for author Mitch Albom and Scribner, another book featuring the remarkable teacher is picking up sales. Morrie: In His Own Words was originally published by Walker and Co. in 1996 as Letting Go. Repackaged this past April with the new title, the publisher reports 52,000 copies of the book in print after seven trips to press. A portion of the proceeds from every copy of Morrie sold is being donated to the Morrie S. Schwartz ALS Research Fund at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Making Book on Koontz
The folks at Bantam are pleased that their star author Dean Koontz is enjoying another holiday hit with the mass market edition of Seize the Night. The book got some of its best reviews when it was published in hardcover last December and the paper edition has 1.6 million copies in sales after three trips to press. Koontz's next book, False Memory, g s on sale December 28, with a first printing of over 400,000. It, too, got a starred review from PW, which called the book "an expertly crafted, ornate suspenser."