Sales in the first week of the 2004 holiday season (that's the week that ended November 28) were lower than in the previous year. Checking the numbers of the top five hardcover fiction and nonfiction titles at the three national chains—Barnes & Noble, Borders and Waldenbooks—we note significant losses in fiction, with small gains for nonfiction. None of the new books hitting the fiction bestseller list are selling as briskly as the top two titles—The Da Vinci Code and The Five People You Meet in Heaven—did last year. In 2003, those two hardcovers had combined sales of 117,799 copies at the three chains for the first week of the holiday season; in 2004, the two long-running bestsellers are still among the top five, but their unit sales are lower: 68,121. In nonfiction, the 2004 top five are all new titles, and their combined unit sales are more comparable to 2003 toppers. The combined figure for first-week sales of the top five nonfiction sellers is 99,399; that's 8.5% higher than last year's 91,644. The 2004 nonfiction first-week numbers are the highest since 1999.
Volume 251 Issue 49 12/06/2004