John Grisham's best first week in the last five years was in 1999, when sales at the three chains for The Testament exceeded 126,000; that was about a 30% improvement over The Street Lawyer's showing in 1998. Grisham's lowest first week total was in 2001, when The Painted House sold about 79,000, a drop of about 38%. He recovered nicely this year with The Summons; in the first week, it sold about 110,000, an increase of about 39% over last year.

For Nicholas Sparks, the news has been only good, as first-week sales for his five bestsellers in as many years have increased steadily. In 1998, Message in a Bottle sold about 10,600 in the first week, compared with 27,780 for the current Nights in Rodanthe—that's about a 162% increase. The news is also all good for Janet Evanovich, whose last three books all landed in the #1 spot after just one week in the stores. In 2000, Hot Six sold about 13,500; in 2001,Seven Up sold about 27,000; this year Hard Eight had first-week sales at the three chains of 42,700; that's hefty growth over the three years—more than 200%.