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Behind the Bestsellers
Daisy Maryles -- 6/19/00

Corks Are Popping | Her Irish Eyes Are Smiling
Waiting for Oprah | Another Broadway Hit

Corks Are Popping
That was the scene last week when Random House found out that Zadie Smith's White Teethwas the #1 bestseller on the independent bookseller list. The house continued pouring the bubbly when it found out that the book was also placing on the national charts. It lands in the #9 slot on PW's fiction list this week and boasts 85,000 copies in print after five trips to press. RH sent out lots of advance reading copies many months before pub date and was buoyed by the enthusiastic bookseller support nationwide. Great reviews were also key, and the New York Times gave the book three hits the week it was published in early May--an excellent daily review, an article by Michiko Kakutani (she said that the author was one of a few writers "reinventing literature") and a Sunday cover review and interview. Smith's 13-city tour, ending June 23, has drawn capacity crowds. Smith appeared on Charlie Rose, Weekend Today, Politically Incorrect and has taped NPR shows that will air in the next few weeks.

Her Irish Eyes Are Smiling
One of the most prolific authors on the scene, if not the most, is Nora Roberts, and she currently has three books on the mass market charts, including the popular Irish Stories series, from Silhouette. The first, Irish Hearts, collects two novels--Irish Thoroughbred and IrishRose. Irish Rebelis a new tale featuring the beautiful daughter of the couple who captured readers' hearts in Roberts's very first book, IrishThoroughbred, published in 1981. These two new bestsellers were each launched with a million-plus first printing. In the past 19 years, Roberts has published 135 novels, translated in more than 25 languages. Her publishers estimate that in the United States alone, a Nora Roberts book is sold every three minutes; Roberts's total in print has surpassed the 112-million mark. And since she usually has at least 10 new bestsellers a year, expect that number to increase.

Waiting for Oprah
Back last December, when Broadway Books published Cheryl Richardson's Take Time for Your Life, much of the publicity effort was focused on getting the book on Oprah. That effort actually began a year earlier, when the book came out in hardcover. The trade paper edition was launched with an 11,500-copy printing and the house came close to getting Richardson on the show a few times. Now the book has 331,000 copies in print after nine trips to press, and guess who's responsible for a lot of that print activity? Richardson not only got her appearance, Oprah used her as the expert on the "Life Makeover" series. Three shows were taped to air before Oprah's summer hiatus--the first one aired Monday, May 29; the second on Monday, June 12; and the third will air on Monday, June 26. Plans are to continue the series in the fall, again using Richardson. At that time, her new book, Life Makeovers,is coming out (the publisher notes that the title actually was selected before Oprah named her series). Broadway moved the book up from December to September 12, to tie in to the publicity. Also, it has been switched from a trade paperback to a hardcover. More Oprah support will come from a nine-page feature and serialization in the October issue of Oprah's magazine, O.

Another Broadway Hit
Intrepid traveler Bill Bryson makes it on the charts this week with In a Sunburned Country, described by publisher Broadway Books as "the ultimate tour of the Land Down Under." Bryson has been very visible in print and broadcast media around the country and is finishing up his 12-city tour. Glowing reviews, including a starred one in PW, quickly got the book onto the charts after just a week in the stores. Copies in print after two trips to press total more than 166,000. Bryson's first bestseller, A Walk in the Woods, about his Appalachian trek, has 585,000 copies in print in the trade paper edition that has gone back to press 21 times. And just released in trade paper is I'm a Stranger Here Myself: Notes on Returning to America After 20 Years Away; Broadway's first printing was 71,000 copies.
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