Amid a growing anticarb backlash and slipping hardcover sales of The South Beach Diet, signs of the next diet trend are emerging in the fast rise of French Women Don't Get Fat by Mireille Guiliano. Just a week after its December 28 release, the breezy guide to staying svelte while eating for pleasure debuted at number 13 on the New York Times Advice/How-To list for January 16, before moving up to #8 on January 23.
But despite a layered publicity campaign that began with a feature in USA Today and lots of glossy magazine coverage, Knopf failed to saturate the market with the $22 hardcover before Guiliano's national TV appearances on Dateline (January 9) and TheToday Show (January 10). The week after the 60,000 first printing went on sale, the house returned to press for only 40,000 copies, leaving Ingram and other wholesalers awash in backorders and many retailers out of stock. Last Monday, the house played catch-up, ordering 100,000 more copies as additional interviews aired on Inside Edition and The Early Show. This week, the New York Times, Time and Newsweek are slated to cover the book as well.
Among the five diet titles on the current Times list, Guiliano is unique in her lack of health credentials, other than having once shed the 20 pounds she gained as an American exchange student when she reverted to her French eating habits. Her message—which boils down to eating what you like while maintaining moderate eating habits with old-fashioned tricks like drinking plenty of water—also avoids the usual mention of carbs, calories and fat grams. But those elements, along with the engaging memoir threaded through the book, have only increased the book's appeal for a wide range of media, including the Food Network (which will air her appearance on Emeril Live! on March 2) and drive-time radio.
As Guiliano's book takes off, it could lift other titles. USA Today's January 4 profile of Guiliano also mentioned Will Clower's The Fat Fallacy: The French Diet Secrets to Permanent Weight Loss from Three Rivers Press, pushing the nine-month-old paperback as high as #104 on Amazon in the last week.