Viral Velocity: ‘Zealot’ Tops the Charts: Fox News Interview with Reza Aslan Continues to Drive Attention, and Sales

It’s no hyperbole to say that Reza Aslan is everywhere lately. The author of Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth has been covered recently in the New Yorker, the New York Times, and Reddit, and he maintains a vigorous presence on Twitter, where he has almost 51,000 followers. And, of course, there’s the much-seen interview, in which Aslan—an Iranian-born academic who studies religion—was asked, repeatedly and indignantly, by host Lauren Green why he, a Muslim, was writing about Jesus. To which Aslan responded, repeatedly and graciously, that he wrote the book as a scholar of religion. (A video of the interview posted on BuzzFeed has more than 5.3 million views and counting.) All that exposure has driven the book to #1 on our Hardcover Nonfiction list, knocking Happy, Happy, Happy, the latest Duck Commander opus, off the top perch. Sales of Zealot increased 179% in the week, with units at BookScan outlets coming in at just under 27,000 copies. The e-book was #2 in the iBooks store last week as well. U.K. rights were picked up by the Westbourne Press, an imprint of Saqi Books, which specializes in Middle East topics; Westbourne is rushing the book into print this month. Aslan already has an international reputation; an earlier book, No God but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam (2005), has been translated into 13 languages. Though generating many fewer clicks, Jesus scholars have begun talking among themselves about the merits of Aslan’s arguments. Random House put Zealot’s in-print number at 280,000 copies after eight printings.—Marcia Z. Nelson

Words on the Go: When it Comes to Reference Works, Size Doesn’t Matter

With high school and college kids everywhere enjoying their final days of vacation, two reference books hit our Mass Market bestseller list this week. Webster’s New World Dictionary and University of Chicago Spanish-English Dictionary (both from Simon & Schuster’s Pocket Books), ranking 6th and 21st, respectively, have been climbing up the lists for the past month. The former is based on Webster’s New World College Dictionary (which has a major new edition pubbing later in the year), and consolidates over 160,000 entries into an essential 60,000, including many additions to the scientific, colloquial, and idiomatic terms. As the digital revolution steadily erodes the reference print market, smaller, more concise editions from established sources seem to have found the right niche. The standard for Spanish translation over the last half-century, the University of Chicago Spanish-English Dictionary received a new edition last year and, with extensive phrase and grammar guides, continues to set the pace in its market, which consists mostly of students and travelers. With the rise of Wikipedia and phone applications, shrinking print titles need big reputations to succeed. —Seth Satterlee

Not a Simple Walk in the Park: Fairstein’s Latest Coop Thriller Digs for Evidence in the History of Central Park

Death Angel, Linda Fairstein’s 15th novel featuring New York City assistant district attorney Alexandra “Coop” Cooper, debuts at #17 on our Hardcover Fiction list. After discovering the body of a naked girl near Central Park’s Bethesda Fountain, Coop and Det. Mike Chapman are pulled into the long-forgotten past and darkest recesses of the park to find the killer. Their investigation leads them from the caves and hidden danger spots of the park, through the Ramble and Ravine, to the attics of the iconic Dakota apartment building. All the while, Coop’s previous casework threatens to resurface with a vengeance when she learns that a man with an ominous tattoo reading “KILL COOP” has been harassing women in the park. From the remnants of Seneca Village to Belvedere Castle, no stone goes unturned, as Coop and Chapman uncover the storied history of Central Park, from entire villages destroyed during its construction to the meticulous planning of every tree, footpath, and terrace.

The former chief of the Sex Crimes Unit of the district attorney’s office in Manhattan for more than two decades, Fairstein is America’s foremost legal expert on sexual assault and domestic violence. Her Alexandra Cooper novels are international bestsellers and have been translated into more than a dozen languages.

Fairstein has appeared on the Today Show, Imus in the Morning, Good Day New York, and Joan Hamburg. She has also done events at the Barnes & Noble on Manhattan’s Upper East Side; Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale, Ariz.; Murder by the Book in Houston; the BookMark in Neptune Beach, Fla.; Books & Books and Book Hampton in New York’s Hamptons; and Bunch of Grapes and Edgartown Books on Martha’s Vineyard, Mass.—Peter Cannon

Third Time’s a Charm: Kenner Shows that a Proven Formula Can Still Yield Results

It’s a testament to the continuing power of the Fifty Shades brand that a comparison to E.L. James’s megabestselling trilogy is still enough to push a series into the spotlight. That’s the case with J. Kenner’s Stark Trilogy of erotic romances; book three, Complete Me, lands at #11 on our Trade Paper bestseller list this week, despite some lackluster reviews. Fans of Kenner’s paranormal romance and urban fantasy (Carpe Demon: Adventures of a Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom and others as Julie Kenner) may also be crossing genre lines to support her venture into the land of erotic romance.

Following in the footsteps of James, Sylvia Day, and other successful erotic romance writers, Kenner pairs up a troubled billionaire and a beautiful, smart young businesswoman. Her heroine, Nikki Fairchild, is independent and feisty, and the story of her romance with entrepreneur Damien Stark focuses less on dominance games and more on emotional growth, as the two learn to believe in themselves and each other.

Released in January, April, and July 2013, the three Stark books have independently done well, with book two, Claim Me, racking up over 15,000 sales according to Nielsen Bookscan. Online reviews suggest that some fans of the first two books are a bit disappointed by the third, but that hasn’t stopped the sales from coming in: Complete Me sold nearly 6,000 copies in its first week on the shelves.—Rose Fox

A Brainstorm on the Subway

An overheard New York subway conversation doesn’t often lead to a million-copy bestseller—but that’s what happened to Jane O’Connor. The Grosset & Dunlap editor had been publishing a series of “night before” holiday books, such as The Night Before Halloween and The Night Before Easter, all by Natasha Wing. But when O’Connor sat next to a little girl who was telling her mother what she was going to do the night before starting kindergarten, something clicked. The Night Before Kindergarten, an 8x8 paperback, came out in 2001, written by Wing and illustrated by Julie Durrell, and has shipped over 1.4 million copies. “It was just a chance conversation,” O’Connor said. “I owe it all to the MTA.” Combined with its successors, The Night Before First Grade and The Night Before Preschool, and others for various holidays, more than 4.8 million copies of books in the 17-title series have shipped. In earlier years, Kindergarten, First Grade, and Preschool would show up on bestseller lists starting in July with the impending start of the school year, but these days, O’Connor said, “what’s interesting is that sales have ballooned, and the books sell all year round now.” The Night Before Your Birthday and The Night Before Hanukkah are due in 2014, as are paper-over-board hardcover editions of Kindergarten, First Grade, and Preschool.—Diane Roback