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Behind the Bestsellers
Daisy Maryles -- 2/21/00
Oprah's 30th book club pick (announced on February 17) is Isabel Allende's Daughter of Fortune, published by HarperCollins last October. The novel enjoyed a four-week stint on PW's bestseller chart last fall and has often been one of the five runners-up on its fiction list. It has been reported consistently by many independent booksellers nationwide. There were 160,000 copies in print after five trips to press pre-Oprah; in anticipation of major post-Oprah sales, HC went back for an additional 600,000. A starred PW review (just about all of Oprah's picks have been starred PW reviews) noted that "this is storytelling at its most seductive." Allende is the first Hispanic author chosen by Oprah; Daughter is also available in a Spanish-language edition, Hija de la Fortuna, and in an unabridged audio version, read by actress Blair Brown.
It was not the exit that Charles Schulz had in mind when he chose February 13 as the last appearance for his 50-year-old Peanuts cartoon strip. His death one day earlier sent his many fans rushing into bookstores to buy Peanuts: A Golden Celebration, published by HarperCollins in October 1999. Activity was strong enough that, based on only three days of sales, the book is right below the nonfiction top 15. Harper tells us it has printed 135,000 copies of the $45 book. Many retailers are out of stock and HC explained to our e-mail PWDaily on February 16 that because of the time it takes to print high-quality, glossy books like this, shipment delays are still anticipated. More stock should be arriving later this week. In anticipation of the "farewell" strip, publicity for Schulz and his beloved creation was stronger than ever; his death spurred even more media frenzy. Still to come is a Today tribute, and People's next cover will feature the beloved cartoonist. Peanuts appeared in 2600 newspapers in 21 languages; its daily readership is reported to be the largest of any comic strip.
It's Not Who You Think
It's true that the title is First Lady, but this newcomer to our mass market chart is no tell-all or expose--Susan Elizabeth Phillips's novel centers around an assassinated president's widow who's asked to continue in her First Lady role for the country's new president, a bachelor. (And that's just the start of her troubles.) This popular author--whose previous three novels all made it onto our mass market lists--has been published in 14 languages and is the two-time recipient of the Romance Writers of America's Favorite Book of the Year Award. Her latest offering was released by Avon on February 8; copies in print after five trips to press total 550,000. In conjunction with Woman's Day magazine, the publisher conducted an unusual marketing promotion, "Are You a First Lady in Your Community?" Designed to honor "the many unrecognized 'First Ladies' in America--the thousands of women across the nation [who] give of themselves every day," a search was launched in the November 1 issue of Woman's Day. Three winners were announced on a Woman's Day AOL chat on February 8; each receives a $2500 donation to the organization of her choice, a signed library of Phillips titles and a year's subscription to Woman's Day (details about the winning trio can be found on www.avonromance.com). Avon publicity director Joan Schulhafer noted that Phillips will move into hardcover for her next novel: This Heart of Mine is due in February 2001.
With reporting by Dick Donahue
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