Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Publishers Weekly Bestsellers for 2005

Last week, Publishers Weekly (PW) reported on their national bestseller lists for 2005.

Before describing the results, PW defined the population. "The number of books published in 2005 is estimated to be close to 200,000, and that includes everything--adult and children's books, professional books and textbooks, paperbacks and hardcovers."

PW maintains four weekly lists: hardcover fiction, hardcover nonfiction, mass market and trade paperback. In 2005, 442 new adult trade titles managed to make it onto those lists and represent only .2% of the 200,000 books published that year.

Seven first-time novelists (and two from the previous year) took 10% of the 260 available slots on the 2005 weekly hardcover fiction lists. The most impressive debut showing was by Elizabeth Kostova's "The Historian." The search for Vlad the Impaler satisfied lovers of vampire fiction and stayed on the hardover charts for 18 weeks.

Of the veterans, James Patterson had five books on the hardcover adult charts while Danielle Steel and Dean Koontz each had three and Nicholas Sparks had two hardcover winners.

In 2005, Kevin Trudeau (yes, the guy from the late night television infomercials) was the big winner on the nonfiction hardcover list. His self-published book, "Natural Cures 'They' Don't Want You to Know About" was on the charts for 13 weeks. He had four million copies in print by year's end.

In mass market (the home of romance, mystery and science fiction), Dan Brown's "Angels & Demons" landed the #1 slot 11 times in 2005 (after being #1 for 34 weeks in 2004). John Grisham came in second. His "The Last Juror" landed the #1 slot 9 times.

According to PW, "[i]n trade paper, nonfiction takes up a little more than 50% of the available weekly spots. The sudoku craze landed four titles on the trade charts--about 7% of that list's bestselling real estate." If you're not familiar with sudoku, read my blog for 12/17/05 and get on board.

The five largest publishing conglomerates--Random House, HarperCollins, Time Warner, Penguin and Simon & Schuster--controlled about 82% of the hardcover bestseller lists and 78% of the paperback lists. Adding Holtzbrinck, Hyperion, Rodale, Houghton Mifflin and Harlequin to the mix, those ten conglomerates controlled 97% of all hardcover bestsellers.

PW ended their report by saying "[d]espite the dominance of a handful of large corporate entities, we have to keep in mind that we are still talking about less than 1% of overall book title output."

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