Archive » August 31, 2007
By Kathy Mullins
Current and Future Bestsellers Pitching a new fall title, a veteran children’s book rep says, “This one tells kids how to do almost everything. If they are aspiring politicians, they can find out ‘How to hypnotize chickens.’”
This is the issue in which we have scheduled to run a monthly bestseller list, hoping it would be a newsworthy measure of what the Santa Ynez Valley and its visitors have been reading. Here’s the list, but to this insider it seems dull, more of the same and without much need for comment or explanation. I wonder why. For one thing, although the lazy days of August find more folks reading than during any other month of the year, for the new book publishing industry August is unquestionably the slowest.
One of The Book Loft’s best customers, an avid and discriminating reader of fiction, especially quality mysteries, sets up a continual Dog Days lament, “Where are my writers? Don’t you have anything new for me?”
Of course, we do, but this reader consumes a lot of books and during August we can’t keep up with her. In contrast to those East Coast publishing people, who are apt to close early or not even bother to come in on high summer Fridays, those of us in the trenches, professional book buyers, are busier than ever finishing up the decisions on which and how many books to stock for the big fall season ahead.
There will be some nice surprises. Also, there will be more of the same, variations on old themes. If a book becomes suddenly successful, imitators are sure to follow.
“Dangerous Book for Boys” has spawned “The Daring Book for Girls” and another publisher is rushing out two volumes of “How to be the Best at Everything,” a boys’ version and a girls’ version. And this is just the start.
The publishing representative from Scholastic (a very successful house whose quiver includes Harry Potter) visited last week. She said, “These books should be great for a kid who wants to go into politics. They even tell how to hypnotize a chicken.”
Although you won’t see it on the list this month, Philippa Gregory’s “The Other Boleyn Girl” has been a perennial bestseller at The Book Loft. Hollywood is now in the act, the upcoming movie release has just been postponed from late 2007 to February 2008. In the meantime the popular British author is scheduled for a massive web event this fall.
The Book Loft’s bestseller list, with its necessarily small sample, always diverges from the national lists. There is one author that assures our uniqueness—Hans Christian Andersen. The Andersen Museum, housed above The Book Loft, carries a wide selection of Hans Christian Andersen titles, many of which should legitimately appear on the store’s lists of top titles. We bunch them together so as not to dominate.
It has been a good summer for selling Andersen. Despite having few or no illustrations, volumes containing his complete tales are the most popular and illustrated anthologies are also big favorites.
The stories are so good that artists are eager to illustrate them. Plus, many authors hanker to do their own variation of an Andersen story. We’ve had “The Principal’s New Clothes” and even “The Dinosaur’s New Clothes.” I like “The Cowboy and the Black-eyed Pea,” but trends being what they are, the recent favorite is Janet Perlman’s “The Penguin and the Pea.”
1. “Complete Tales of Hans Christian Andersen”
2. “Water for Elephants” Sara Gruen
3. “Secret Servant” Daniel Silva
4. “Echo Park” Michael Connelly
5. “Under Orders” Dick Francis
1. “Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar . . .Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes” Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein
2. “Eat, Pray, Love” Elizabeth Gilbert
3. “Three Cups of Tea” Greg Mortenson and David O. Relin
4. “The Secret” Rhonda Byrne
5. “California’s Central Coast from Santa Barbara to Paso Robles: The Ultimate Winery Guide” Mira Advani Honeycutt and Kurt Irwin
1. “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” J. K. Rowling
2. “Tales of Hans Christian Andersen” Various editions
3. “Dangerous Book for Boys” Conn and Hal Iggulden
4. “Eclipse” Stephenie Meyer
5. “Johann Gutenberg and the Amazing Printing Press” Bruce Koscielniak