Behind the Bestsellers
Daisy Maryles -- 1/8/01

It's Grisham Time | Kudos for Koontz | A Memphis Sleeper
Movie Madness

It's Grisham TimeThe first big mass market bestseller for 2001 is John Grisham's The Brethren,which landed in the #1 slot after just one week on sale. The Dell Island paperback had a hefty four-million-copy first printing. Grisham's fans can look forward to a change of pace from America's favorite writer of legal thrillers. His next book, A Painted House, is a nonthriller (it's a coming-of-age story inspired, according to the publisher, by Grisham's childhood in rural Arkansas), and Doubleday plans a one-day laydown February 6 and a 2.8-million first printing. These printings will increase Grisham's in-print total to more than 60 million copies worldwide; his books--12, including A Painted House--have been translated into 29 languages. Look for an interview with the author and a Book News story on the latest hardcover in ourJanuary 22 issue. Grisham followers have had a chance to read some of the early chapters of the novel, which were excerpted in the author's magazine, the Oxford American.

Kudos for KoontzPW's review said that Dean Koontz's 38th novel, From the Corner of His Eye, is one of his "most affecting." Bantam launched the book with a 500,000-copy first printing and it landed at the top of all the national charts after just a week in the stores. Koontz d s not travel on airplanes and the only bookstore signing that he d s is at the Book Carnival in Orange, Calif. Owner Ed Thomas told PW that because the book was released during the holidays (laydown was December 26), the autographing was scheduled for January 7, as this column was going to press. Thomas is expecting a huge crowd and said the phone has been ringing off the hook. He has presold 576 copies; these will be signed and shipped to fans across the country. The store has about 1,500 books on hand and Koontz is planning to sign from 12 to 5 p.m.--"but he won't leave until everyone on line has been taken care of," said Thomas.

A Memphis Sleeper
The bestselling book of the holiday season in Memphis, Tenn., is a first novel, Broken Hearts, by a local author named Bob Levy. The book, from Santa Fe, N.Mex., publisher Sunstone Press,
has had two trips to press, for 5,000 copies each. A clothing retailer by day, Levy used some of his marketing expertise to get his book into the hands of people with influence. In fact, President Clinton read it while in Okinawa, and he dropped a quick note to the author: "It's very good. I could hardly put it down. If you get the publicity it deserves, you will be the famous author of your dreams. Keep at it." At a signing in Virginia in mid-October, Levy looked up and saw John Grisham in the crowd. He, too, had read and enjoyed the book, and gave this blurb: "Bob Levy weaves a delightful tale of suspense and mystery, and the pages go flying by. Broken Hearts is a promising first novel." Davis-Kidd sold 1,239 copies last year at its Memphis store (just beating its #2 bestseller, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, at 1,235). Sunstone has been a publisher of regional nonfiction for more than 30 years. Five years ago, it launched a debut fiction series. According to publisher James Smith, the impetus was a Civil War novel written by his brother that needed a publisher. That book, Hillcountry Warriors, got good reviews (PW said, "Smith's command of the era's politics and history and his feel for Southern family relationships make his tale an above-par work of period fiction") and sold about 10,000 copies.

Movie MadnessTwo trade paperback movie tie-ins are bestsellers in bookstores across the country, and one, Cormac McCarthy's All the Pretty Horses, has landed on PW's list, in the #14 spot. The Vintage paperback, first published in 1993, has 1,230,000 copies in print, including the 44th printing of 300,000 copies for the tie-in. The second book, Chocolat by Joanne Harris, from Penguin, has 123,000 copies after three trips to press. Miramax and Godiva have cooperated on a promotion--a movie ticket stub can be exchanged for a complimentary truffle in any of Godiva's 232 boutiques nationwide.