May 26, 2007

Looking at "THE LIST"

Books Sales are something that all uber fans of our genre are aware of. We want the folks we like to read to sell enough books to be asked to write another one. It's that simple. When you're a rabid fan and know a fav has a book out you're going to look at the New York Times Best Seller list. There are more accurate lists out there and there are lists that better trace the momentum of a novel. But the be all, tell all list is and will probably always be the NYTBSL. It's an acronym.

This week I was very interested in the list. And I was informed. Not by publicists or insiders but by a road trip. I knew that Crimespree favorites Lee Child(BAD LUCK AND TROUBLE) and John Connolly both had books coming out. I knew that the wonderful Charlaine Harris newest Skookie Stackhouse(ALL TOGETHER DEAD) had dropped the week before and I was in airports on drop day. Mr. Child's book was being given front and center in Baltimore but in Milwaukee they brought in more of James Pattersons books and kept him front and center. Then it was time to windowshop Baltimore's inner harbour. Lee had a stackout at Barnes and Noble just inside the front entrance. Charlaine had an endcap on the new releases shelving but the happy news for me was John's book, "THE UNQUIET" had been picked for the 20% (members get 30) pick of the week. And in airports, bookstores and the news there was James Patterson. Paperback, Backlist, and the newest, THE 6TH TARGET. Also prominent were Baldacchi, Picoult, Chabon, and Tolkien. Harlan Coben commanded top shelf status. The biggest surprise to me was the continued shelf support of Robert Crais's THE WATCHMAN. In this three week shelf life mentality, Crais's book was still being supported.

And so I looked at the list this morning. And I'm happy for Lee (debuting at #2 this year) and Charlaine (still strong at 16 with an asterik) on week 2. I'm really excited by John Connolly's # 19 on the extended list. He hasn't started touring yet, reviews are just coming in and he's a salesman. His charm and the quality of the book should see this through to his best American sales ever.

There were some very cool other results on the list too. For those who talk Cover, Shelf Placement, and Big Backing as the only thing that matters know that while I saw little of Sandford's INVISIBLE PREY prominently displayed he's at #3. Fans do care. They will seek out their favorites even if they are on the third shelf down.

The sheer number of crime fiction books on the list is also gratifying to any mystery/thriller fan. I count 17 clear cut genre books on the Times list of 35. Ah summer; murder, serial killers, cozies, and global destruction.
And the coolest thing of all, C.J. Box's FREE FIRE making the extended list when his tour hasn't begun to swing yet.

Time at the airports and big bookstores also made me realize how hard it truly is. The sheer number of quality authors who don't get either the print runs, promises from CostCo, or advertising they need to begin to be on the list is heartbreaking. I'll celebrate those whose work I've loved making the list, being on the list at a higher number or just selling more books this time out. But the part of me that is Crimespree will also cheer on the next wave, wait for the next quality writer to emerge upon the list and in the retail outlets in a full on Book Bouquet. It's Memorial Day Weekend, celebrate by visiting a bookstore buying a favorite who's made the list and a favorite who you have to bend down to grab. We ain't lemmings damnit and this weekend we have time to read two.

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