In the Saturday Books supplement (18 November), The Times gets going on its recommendations for gift books for the upcoming holiday season, a.k.a. Christmas for the unreconstructed. As the blogs have already been doing this for a while now, including my fairly regular recommendations on Petrona (here’s a link to my most recent selection), I won’t highlight The Times’ selections here. (But if you want to check them out, here is a link to their fiction suggestions, and from there you can navigate to other book category recommendations.)
Apologies for the preamble — what I am going to mention here are the UK fiction "bestsellers" for 2006, and then highlight a few from last week. For 2006 (not clear whether they mean "so far" or Nov 05 to Nov 06), the top five paperbacks are:
Labyrinth by Kate Mosse (826,343)
"Centuries-spanning grail adventure endorsed by Richard and Judy pips Dan Brown to the top spot."
Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown (566,446)
"Whole forests have been felled to feed our continuing obsession with this book."
The Island by Victoria Hislop (543,966)
"War, lepers and family secrets in Crete."
Angels and Demons by Dan Brown (541,678)
Harvard symbologist on the trail of an ancient, murderous brotherhood."
A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian (516,722)
"Refugees discover their past."
Of course, this isn’t the first year that the Dan Browns have been on sale. And for some reason the Times does not mention that Hislop’s The Island was also a Richard&Judy selection. Although "Tractors" wasn’t, it was one of the BBC’s equivalents (Page Turners) and won the Richard&Judy- sponsored newcomer category of the British Book Awards earlier this year. John Self of Waterstones here describes why he chose this book for one of the shop’s "3 for 2" offers.
Marketing and sales go hand-in-hand, it seems.
Finally, from last week’s bestseller lists (top sellers for the week ending 11 November), a few entries:
1. Guinness World Records (42,858)
5. That Extra Half Inch (26,475) (I’m speechless– it is "by" Victoria Beckham – who is buying it?)
6. The Devil Wears Prada (23,254) (Lauren Weisberger, first fiction entry)
20. The End (12,045) (Lemony Snicket’s "Series of Unfortunate Events" 13)
25. Lisey’s Story (10,268) (Stephen King)
46. The God Delusion (7,732) (Richard Dawkins)
47. Disney’s Princesses Annual (7,547)
The independent booksellers also have a top 10 listing, but don’t provide quantities sold.
1. The Dangerous Book for Boys (21 on the mainstream chart)
2. Why don’t Penguin’s Feet Freeze? (3) (New Scientist magazine’s follow-up to last year’s surprise top seller, Does Anything Eat Wasps?)
3. The God Delusion (46)