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Behind the Bestsellers
Daisy Maryles -- 3/13/00

A Recipe for Success

It looks like bestselling culinary mystery author Diane Mott Davidson has once again served up double helpings of bestseller--Tough Cookie and Prime Cut. The ninth novel to feature Colorado caterer Goldy Schulz, Tough Cookie debuts at #11 on the PW list with just a partial week on sale. It has more than 100,000 copies in print and has already been back to press four times. Prime Cut, the paperback reprint of Davidson's previous hardcover bestseller, hits the list at #15, and is in its third printing, with 600,000 copies. This time Bantam cooked up an especially creative campaign, including providing a ceramic cookie jar, like the one on the cover, for in-store display, as well as an innovative marketing/advertising program that includes teaming up with Foodtv.com and Allrecipes.com. On-line banners promote the hardcover and give viewers a sneak peek at some of the author's new recipes. Davidson is in the midst of a one-month tour, through March, in 12 cities.

The Diary Queen Is Back

"The wilderness years are over," proclaims Britain's most celebrated diary-keeper since Samuel Pepys in the opening of her new opus. Yes, it's that hilarious (and megaselling) Ms. Jones, who announces in Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason that "for four weeks and five days now have been in functional relationship with adult male." Viking can certainly count on a longer "relationship" than that with the national charts: Bridget Jones's Diary (published in 1998) spent 28 weeks on PW's list in its hardcover and paperback incarnations (300,000 and 510,000 copies in print, respectively). The Edge of Reason (on-sale date: February 28) is up to 305,000 copies after six trips to press, and Jones creator Helen Fielding is playing to SRO crowds on her current 10-city tour. Publicity hits so far include Weekend Today, The CBS Early Show, a New York Times interview and first serial in Cosmopolitan.

A Real Backlist Mover

How many books (other than the Bible) can make it onto a bestseller list about 1200 years after original publication? Currently, that would be Beowulf, an Anglo-Saxon narrative epic composed between the middle of the 7th and the beginning of the 10th century. The new translation, by Northern Ireland's Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney, is the #1 bestseller in Great Britain and has hit the bestseller charts in the U.S. Farrar, Straus & Giroux launched the book with a 17,000-copy printing; after six trips to press, the in-print number is up to 60,000. Heany was originally commissioned to translate Beowulf by W.W. Norton for its Norton Anthology. Because he is an FSG house author, the publisher decided to license a stand-alone bilingual edition (the anthology is not bilingual). Norton published the anthology version this past November and will do a paperback of the Heany book sometime next year.

Political Bookfellows

It will be interesting to see if John McCain's Faith of My Fathers continues to hold the public's interest now that he is no longer on the Presidential campaign trail; he did enjoy a good romp on the list, with 15 weeks so far and a total of 480,000 copies in print. Even more interesting will be how well Molly Ivins's Shrub will continue to do as George W. Bush begins his campaign against Al Gore. Before Super Tuesday, that book had 107,500 copies in print after two trips to press. Ivins has had a full media blitz, including Charlie Rose, Today and NPR's All Things Considered. Since Random House published both books, the house wins no matter what.

With reporting by Dick Donahue.
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