Facebook female exec takes heat, draws crowds.

Debuting at #23 on this week’s Hardcover Nonfiction list is Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In: Women Work and the Will to Lead, which went on sale March 11 with 225,000 copies in print and a seven-city author tour. Her first events—at New York’s Union Square B&N and Washington, D.C.’s Politics and Prose at Sixth and I—drew SRO crowds. Her remaining gigs, Knopf reports, are sold out. The publisher landed dual serializations—one on the cover of Time and another in a special insert of Cosmopolitan’s April issue, timed to publication. In a strong media blitz, Sandberg appeared on 60 Minutes, NPR’s Morning Edition, Good Morning America, Katie, and Nightline. So far, so good. In the run-up to publication, however, Lean In ignited a firestorm of controversy, which, according to the Daily Dose, “started weeks ago, before even review copies were available.” Thus far, adds the Dose, “the battle is being waged by bold-faced names such as New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, Princeton professor Anne-Marie Slaughter, author of the wildly controversial Why Women Still Can’t Have It All, for the Atlantic, and feminist icon Gloria Steinem.” In a recent op-ed, Dowd said that Sandberg’s brand of corporate feminism leaves her “leaning out”; according to the columnist, Sandberg, who is chief operating officer at Facebook, is “using social idealism for the purpose of marketing.” It appears that it’s the columnists who have leaned in so negatively; on the positive side, the publisher reports that reviews since publication have been overwhelmingly favorable. In a March 7 New York Times review, Janet Maslin called Sandberg’s work a “landmark manifesto” that “will open the eyes of women who grew up thinking that feminism was ancient history.” The book’s release has generated a broadcast wall of sound; the simultaneous launch of LeanIn.org has brought audiences flocking to the site. Media still to come includes Today, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, PBS/Bloomberg’s Charlie Rose, CNN’s Starting Point, and more. Knopf went back to press eight times in the first week, bringing the total copies in print up to over 400,000. Perhaps demonstrating once again that there’s no such thing as bad publicity. —Dick Donahue

Trending… Offline

Jonah Berger explains the whys and wherefores of word-of-mouth popularity.

Debuting at #15 on the Hardcover Nonfiction list, Wharton marketing professor Jonah Berger’s Contagious: Why Things Catch On offers secrets for why products and ideas become popular. In what PW called “a useful and entertaining primer that diagnoses countless baffling pop culture epidemics” (Nov. 19, 2012), Berger uses his research on social influence and a slew of accessible examples (most e-mailed articles from the New York Times, Rebecca Black’s song “Friday,” why $100 is reasonable for a cheesesteak) to explain what gets people talking. The surprise finding? It’s still the offline conversations that matter most. According to Berger, six elements, or “STEPPS” (Social Currency, Triggers, Emotion, Public, Practical Value, and Stories), determine why a story, YouTube video, or product becomes contagious. As Berger explained in his December 14, 2012 interview with PW: “We really don’t believe what we hear from ads; we’re much more likely to believe our friends. Because of that, word-of-mouth is much more effective at driving sales and popularizing ideas than is traditional advertising.” Berger’s book tour began with appearances on NPR’s Marketplace and CBS’s This Morning, and has included interviews with USA Today, MSNBC, and FOX Radio. He is the subject of a major profile in Fast Company’s April issue, and recently gave a talk to a SRO crowd at SXSW. Coming up, he will speak at Google, Microsoft, the Commonwealth Club, and the Authors@Wharton series. Hopefully, the foremost subject of chatter will be his book.—Jessamine Chan

Inspiration Strikes Again

Inspirational novelist Karen Kingsbury continues her bestselling ways with The Chance (Howard), debuting at #6 on our Hardcover Fiction list. Kingsbury is known for her ability to write quickly; her previous novel, The Bridge, published by Howard in October, also made bestseller lists. Kingsbury is also known for cultivating her relationship with her readers. She is very active on social media, with 275,000 Facebook page “likes.” Though she often writes reader-hooking series, Kingsbury is in the midst of a 10-book deal with Howard for stand-alone novels. PW said of The Chance (Feb. 25): “Kingsbury knows how to get down to business; readers start worrying from the opening sentence about 15-year-old Ellie Tucker and her family.” (Kingsbury talked to PW about her work in a publisher-sponsored podcast available at PW’s Web site.) —Marcia Z. Nelson

Cussler Keeps Finding Treasures

Clive Cussler and Justin Scott’s The Striker, the sixth historical thriller featuring private detective Isaac Bell, debuts at #2 on the Hardcover Fiction list. In 1902, Bell, only two years out of his apprenticeship at the Van Dorn Detective Agency, receives an urgent message from his boss, who orders him to go undercover as a coal miner and ferret out the identities of saboteurs looking to do damage to a West Virginia coal mine. Bell witnesses a terrible train accident that makes him think that something else is going on besides sabotage, and bigger stakes are at play. PW said in its review (Jan. 21): “The action flows swiftly, and the authors do a good job depicting the work conditions and the class warfare of the time.”

Clive Cussler is the author or coauthor of more than 50 previous books in five bestselling series, including Dirk Pitt, NUMA Files, Oregon Files, Fargo, and Isaac Bell. His nonfiction works include Built for Adventure: The Classic Automobiles of Clive Cussler and Dirk Pitt, plus The Sea Hunters and The Sea Hunters II, which describe the true adventures of the real NUMA (National Underwater and Marine Agency), led by Cussler, who with his crew of volunteers has discovered more than 60 sunken ships, including the long-lost Confederate submarine Hunley.

Justin Scott has coauthored four previous Isaac Bell novels with Cussler. He is the author of the classic sea novel The Shipkiller, originally published in 1978 and reissued by Pegasus last year. He writes modern sea thrillers under the pen name Paul Garrison.—Peter Cannon