From Cape Cod to the Big Island, we
checked in with booksellers to see what customers are clamoring for this
season. Most retailers are reporting sales on par with or slightly better than
last year's tally--despite severe wintry weather in many parts of the country--with
Mark Twain, a wimpy kid and local scribes leading the way.
The top-selling title at the King's
English Bookshop in Salt Lake City, Utah, is Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 1, "the book we don't
have," said general manager Anne Holman. "We have customers lined up
like flights coming into JFK, and we're trying to make sure we're filling the
backorders fairly--the same way our suppliers are trying to do."
Aside from Twain's true-life tale,
the frontrunner is the young adult novel Matched
by Ally Condie, which is having no supply problems. The King's English held
a launch party for Condie, a local author, earlier this month, and the book is currently
#6 on the New York Times Children's
Chapter Books bestseller list. In addition, noted Holman, "it doesn't hurt
that it has a beautiful cover for holiday gift giving."
Twain is also the man of the moment
at Bank Square Books in Mystic, Conn. Autobiography
of Mark Twain is the store's most popular hardcover, which co-owner Annie Philbrick
attributes to the abundance of media attention and also to "how slowly it
is being doled out." Following Twain is Susan Cheever's Louisa May Alcott: A Personal Biography and
Laura Hillenbrand's Unbroken: A World War
II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption.
"Paperbacks are good gifts for
the budget-minded person," Philbrick said. The store's top paperback trio includes
the novels Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
and Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and
Sweet by Jamie Ford, along with one of Philbrick's favorites--Rhoda Janzen's Mennonite in a Little Black Dress: A Memoir
of Going Home. Leading children's books are Jeff Kinney's Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth and
Suzanne Collins's Hunger Games series.
Bank Square Books has sold nearly 300 copies of Colors
of Mystic, which features watercolors of local landscapes and houses. The coffee-table tome, produced by the Mystic River Historical Society, is displayed on
the store's front counter.
Although Twain once toured the Big Island, he doesn't have top billing at Kona
Stories in Kealakekua, Hawaii. That distinction goes to Doreen Virtue and Grant
Virtue, the authors of Angel Words:
Visual Evidence of How Words Can Be Angels in Your Life. Hawaii resident Doreen
did double duty this past weekend, signing books at the store and then singing
with her band in a courtyard pavilion at the shopping plaza where Kona Stories
Pat Conroy has the top honors at Quail
Ridge Books & Music in Raleigh, N.C., for My Reading Life, an account of the profound effect reading has had
on him and some of the notable books that have influenced him. Driving sales,
said general manager Sarah Goddin, are "an event by a beloved author, handselling
of signed copies by several staff members who have read it and big stacks in
Nancy Pearl's Book Lust to Go: Recommended Reading for Travelers, Vagabonds, and
Dreamers "is oh-so-easy to hand sell," said Wendy Platt of Wide
World Books and Maps in Seattle, Wash. It was the store's #1 bestseller even
before Seattle resident Pearl appeared for a signing last week. Platt's
favorite moment during the event happened "when Nancy was asked if she
used a Kindle or other electronic reader. She grabbed a copy of When Wanderers Cease to Roam and, trying
to convey her love for books, proclaimed, 'You can't hug an iPad.' "
A tight race is taking place
between Michael Connelly's The Reversal and
Robert Crais's The First Rule at the
Mystery Bookstore in Los Angeles, Calif. Connelly has edged just ahead of
Crais, reported assistant manager Linda Brown, but the tables could turn before
the holiday season comes to a close. "Both authors are very good friends
of the Mystery Bookstore, always giving us great events and taking great care
of our customers and their fans," Brown said. "My fantasy is to have
them do an event together here some day. That would be a party."
Gift-givers shopping at the Book
Cellar in Chicago, Ill., are picking up copies of Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff--driven
by coverage in the New York Times and
the Chicago Tribune--and Patti Smith's
National Book Award-winning memoir, Just
Kids. "The National Book Award winner is always a bestseller
here," said owner Suzy Takacs.
Nonfiction rules at Bookends in Ridgewood, N.J., a New York City suburb. Its bestseller is George W. Bush's memoir Decision Points
, followed by Keith Richard's Life
and Autobiography of Mark Twain
. "We typically do well with New York Times
hardcovers this time of year, and Ridgewood is a Republican stronghold," commented owner Walter Boyer. The copies the store had on hand of the Decision Points
limited, deluxe edition ($350) quickly sold out.
of Mark Twain is the #2 title at Titcomb's Bookshop in East Sandwich, Mass.,
trumped by Kathleen Grissom's novel The
Kitchen House, the store's January book
club pick. "We sell many more copies each month than we have members of
the book club," noted manager Vicky Uminowicz. Diary
of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth is the #3 seller, while Unbroken and the children's picture book The Christmas Cookie Sprinkle Snitcher by Robert Kraus are tied for
the #4 spot. Staff at Titcomb's had been asking for some time for a reprint of Kraus's
story, which Purple House Books reissued this past March.
Holiday sales so far at Titcomb's are
almost exactly the same as last year. "We're pleased, although there's
still time to try to exceed last year's sales," said Uminowicz. "Many
of the people who come to the shop comment on how they like to shop locally,
but I also hear many compliments on the great suggestions and honest
recommendations from everyone who works in the store, the wonderful selection
of books. Free gift wrapping is a definite plus as well."--Shannon