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Behind the Bestsellers
Daisy Maryles -- 4/17/00

Rodale's First Bestseller

The folks at Rodale are popping champagne corks in celebration of the house's first national bestseller in its 60+ years on the publishing scene. The book is Dr. Shapiro's Picture Perfect Weight Loss by Dr. Howard Shapiro, who practices weight-loss management on Manhattan's tony upper East Side. Rodale launched the book April 3 with a 50,000-copy first printing and a publicity campaign that included Good Morning America and a three-page feature in USA Today. GMA did four segments on the book, beginning in mid-February. As part of the creative publicity for the book, Dr. Shapiro put members of the New York City Fire Department on his diet. The 23 men and women who participated lost more than 550 pounds in 10 weeks. GMA followed New York's Bravest throughout the diet and reported monthly. Shapiro began a 14-city tour on April 5. Rodale went back to press April 13 for 40,000 more copies and has ordered a third printing of 50,000 to ship April 24 and a fourth of 100,000 to ship on May 1.

Lot of Fiction Turnover

Five new novels debut on our fiction list this week, a much higher figure than usual. In the lead spot is Danielle Steel's latest--The Wedding--her 48th bestselling novel. First printing is more than 900,000 copies, which will certainly boost her overall sales tally of 410 million books. Fans can look forward to novel #49, The House on Hope Street, in July.

Another prolific writer, Robert Parker, lands on the list in the #5 spot with his 27th Spenser novel in 27 years. Putnam launched Hugger Mugger with 166,660 copies. Parker is doing publicity for the new book while finishing Perish Twice, a September title that features female P.I Sunny Randall (the first in that new series was Family Honor).

Jane Smiley's newest novel, Horse Heaven, hits the charts with a 150,000-copy first printing. Media profiles of the author include stories about her 16 horses. In addition to stellar reviews in all the expected newspapers and magazines, Smiley is being featured in several horse publications and wrote an article for the April issue of Practical Horseman. Knopf has her on a 19-city tour through the end of June.

The two other fiction bestsellers are from Bantam: Amanda Quick's Wicked Widow and Michael Palmer's The Patient; more on these next week.

Staggering Auction

Dave Eggers's A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius from Simon & Schuster has been on the charts for about two months and has gotten rave reviews. All the attention certainly helped make for a lively paperback auction, won by Vintage for $1,402,500--the highest ever paid by the house for such rights. Ten foreign countries also bought rights, with advances adding up to about $500,000. The hardcover boasts 180,000 copies in print after nine trips to press.

HCI's Backlist Winners

Since Dutton published A Man Called Dave by Dave Pelzer in hardcover last October, Health Communications has been enjoying a strong run with two earlier paperbacks by Pelzer. A Child Called It, first released in 1995 has lifetime sales of 1.3 million, and has shipped more than 131,000 copies in 2000. Pelzer's second book, The Lost Boy, published in 1997, has shipped about 98,000 copies so far this calendar year, and the sales total is about 800,000.

Mea Culpa, HCI

Our paperback religion bestseller chart this month lists an earlier Health Communications book, Chicken Soup for the Christian Soul, in the #7 slot. The Soup book that is actually hottest at the moment is Chicken Soup for the Christian Family Soul, #8 on the weekly trade charts. The religion list was already on press when we realized our error. The newest addition in the Chicken Soup series was launched with a one-million-copy first printing. Authors Mark Victor Hansen and Patty Aubery are splitting a 14-city publicity tour.
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