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Publishers Weekly Bestsellers

Behind the Bestsellers
Daisy Maryles -- 6/26/00

Oprah's for Barbara | Talk Funny, Make Money | When Iris Eyes Are Smiling | Hardly a Secret

Oprah's for Barbara
Stop the presses! Or rather, start them up! Last Friday, Oprah announced selection #35 for her celebrated on-air book club. It's Barbara Kingsolver's The Poisonwood Bible, a national bestseller that countless readers have already acclaimed--and which countless more are about to discover. The novel's impressive run on PW's charts reads as follows: the HarperCollins hardcover, published in November 1998, spent 30 weeks on our list, two of those in the #3 slot; the HarperPerennial edition was released in October 1999; today marks its 36thweek on the trade paper list (that version, too, topped out at #3--a position we just bet will be improved come next week). Harper reports a combined in-print total, pre-Oprah, of 1.3 million; the back-to-press figure is 700,000, most of which will be for the paper edition.

Talk Funny, Make Money
It's nice to report that author David Sedaris has evidently joined the ranks of the clothed--following the April 1997 appearance of his Naked on PW's nonfiction list. Now the author is finishing off a 26-city tour--for Me Talk Pretty One Day--that began in New York City on June 1, when more than 500 people showed up for a reading and signing. Little, Brown notes that all his bookstore events since have been standing room only. (In last week's PW Interview, Sedaris confessed, "I never thought I could make a career out of going out and reading to people.") His latest tome consists of 27 pieces about his experiences in Paris (he's lived there for two years) and his laborious attempts at learning a foreign tongue. Among the book's many raves is a starred PW review that called Sedaris "Garrison Keillor's evil twin" and promised that Me Talk Pretty would "exhaust readers... with helpless laughter." Sedaris got the publicity ball rolling before the book's debut by doing dozens of phone interviews from Paris. Look for him on David Letterman this Thursday (June 29). Four trips back to press have raised the 75,000-copy first print figure to 135,000.

When Iris Eyes Are Smiling
It's been a very good run for Iris Johansen, with five consecutive million-copy-plus suspense bestsellers (that figure includes paper and hardcover books). Number six, The Search, looks like it will continue the tradition, having landed on all the national bestseller charts within a week of publication. Bantam boasts more than 190,000 copies in print after three trips to press. Copies in print of Johansen's uvre (45 books) total more than eight million. Her latest, which features a canine search-and-rescue team, has gotten strong reviews in the national media. The author's fans will have to wait until mid-2001 for her next suspense novel, which harks back to a series she wrote in 1991 called The Wind Dancer.

Hardly a Secret
In his latest book--and first Civil War-set novel in more than a decade--megaselling author John Jakes once again proves himself "the foremost historical novelist of our national conflict." So said PW in its review of On Secret Service, which was published by Dutton on June 5 with a first printing of 110,000 copies. The author of 14 consecutive national bestsellers (including such hugely popular series as The Kent Family Chronicles and the North and South trilogy), Jakes marks his 50th year as a professional writer with this tale of espionage and counterespionage. Extensive online marketing, print coverage and bookstore appearances by the author landed the book on our list last week (right now it's just below the top 15).

With reporting by Dick Donahue
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