Sookie's Grand Exit
Charlaine Harris’s Dead Ever After rockets to #1 on our Hardcover Fiction list thanks to the legions of fans who want to find out what happens to Sookie Stackhouse in her 13th and final adventure. Harris’s Southern Vampire Mystery series was already popular when HBO adapted it for True Blood, and now she’s an indisputable superstar of the urban fantasy genre. When word leaked that Sookie wasn’t going to end up paired with fan favorite Eric, outrage erupted on message boards and some readers threatened to cancel pre-orders, but they seem to be in the minority; the hardcover clocked over 80,000 sales in its first week out. On last week’s episode of Publishers Weekly Radio we asked Harris how she felt about the fan reaction to the spoilers. “This isn’t a democracy,” she said firmly. “I’ve had this ending in mind since maybe the second book, and I wrote the book I wanted to write.” Fortunately for the readers who are unhappy with that resolution, True Blood has diverged significantly from the books, so there’s a chance that the televised versions of Sookie and Eric will end up together after all.—Rose Fox
The Politics of Scandal
Silken Prey, John Sandford’s 23rd crime novel featuring Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension agent Lucas Davenport, debuts at #3 on the Hardcover Fiction list. Minnesota Gov. Elmer Henderson hands Davenport a political hot potato. Incumbent Republican Sen. Porter Smalls had a slight lead for reelection, until a campaign volunteer accidentally discovered child porn on Smalls’s computer. Now Taryn Grant—a wealthy, ambitious, ruthless Democratic newcomer—might pull off an upset. Though Henderson is a Democrat, he believes Smalls has been framed, and tasks Davenport with quietly and quickly investigating. The PW review said, “Sandford expertly ratchets up the suspense and delivers some nifty surprises.”
Sandford started a one-week tour on May 7, with four standing-room-only events in Minneapolis, and then traveled to Scottsdale, Ariz.; Houston,; St. Louis, Mo.; Santa Monica, San Diego, and Orange, Calif. He was interviewed on Publishers Weekly Radio, and print coverage is expected in the Washington Post, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Richmond Times-Dispatch, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and Providence Journal. On the radio, Sandford said of his writing routine, “I started out in the newspaper business. You’re not allowed to have writer’s block.”
Sandford is the pseudonym of John Camp, a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist. In addition to 23 Prey novels, he is the author of six Virgil Flowers novels, four Kidd novels, and two stand-alones. He lives in Santa Fe, N.Mex., and Pasadena, Calif.—Peter Cannon
The Weighting Game
Ten years ago, Lisa Lillien admits she was just another 30-something L.A. “Hungry Girl” who needed to drop a few pounds. But back in May 2004, she started sharing guilt-free recipes, food and product reviews, and weight-loss diet news with some 200 subscribers—mostly friends and family. By December, she was up to 10,000 followers through word of mouth. Fast-forward to January 2011, when Scripps Networks launched Lillien—now officially dubbed Hungry Girl—in her first season: it was a huge success. Season two kicked off that August, airing on both Food Network and the Cooking Channel. This month, Hungry Girl e-mails went out to some 1.2 million people. Food manufacturers, including Kraft, General Mills, Quaker, and others, courted her endorsement for their products, and some explored creating Hungry Girl–inspired foods. Not surprisingly, the next step was publishing: her first book, Hungry Girl Recipes and Survival Strategies for Guilt-Free Eating in the Real World, came out in 2008; six more titles followed, five of which have debuted at #1 on the New York Times list. Book eight, Hungry Girl 200 Under 200: Just Desserts, snags fifth place on today’s Trade Paperback list. According to Nielsen BookScan, total sales for all her books stand at a whopping 1,358,462 copies.—Dick Donahue
Meet the Gaffigans
“Failing and laughing at your own shortcomings are the hallmarks of a sane parent,” Jim Gaffigan writes in Dad Is Fat, debuting this week at #9 on the Hardcover Nonfiction list. The aphorism underlies many of these comical essays on the early years of parenting. Gaffigan and his wife are raising five children (the eldest is eight) in a two-bedroom apartment on the Bowery in Lower Manhattan, a situation rife with absurdity. Anecdotal yet emotionally rooted, Gaffigan’s comedy is sometimes described as “family friendly”—a label he combats in one essay—and often provides as much insight as it does humor. Gaffigan has already appeared on NPR’s Weekend Edition with Scott Simon, ABC’s The View, and MSNBC’s Morning Joe. He will be speaking at BEA in New York at noon on Saturday, June 1, before winding his way down the East Coast and through the Midwest on a nine-stop bus tour leading up to Father’s Day.
When Penguin Young Readers Group signed The 5th Wave, Rick Yancey’s YA science fiction thriller about a teenage girl on the run from alien killers while searching out Earth’s last survivors, they had big crossover hopes—and it looks like those hopes are being realized. The 5th Wave, with an announced first printing of 500,000 copies, pubbed on May 7 and has just debuted at #1 on PW’s Children’s Frontlist Fiction list. To build buzz, last summer Penguin sent partial manuscripts to select booksellers and librarians, scheduled a bookseller dinner tour for Yancey, and sent him to ABA Winter Institute. The publisher also created four book trailers, each aimed at a separate market and demographic.
Yancey has written several novels for adults in addition to his YA offerings, which include The Extraordinary Adventures of Alfred Kropp and the Printz Honor book The Monstrumologist. He told PW that he hopes The 5th Wave will strike a chord with both audiences. “I never try to focus on demographics when I write. I just try to write the best story I can,” he said. “Then I hope everyone will read it.”—Sally Lodge
Obsessed: America’s Food Addiction—and My Own, the latest book from broadcast journalist Mika Brzezinski, cohost of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, enters the Hardcover Nonfiction list at #15, and addresses the national obesity epidemic by way of public policy, industry practices, science, and popular culture, while also sharing the authors’ personal food struggles. The book begins with Brzezinski challenging her coauthor and close friend, Diane Smith, a television journalist and radio host, to lose 75 lbs. Meanwhile, Brzezinski, who has spent all her life struggling to be thin, analyzes her own obsession with food, addresses her distorted body image, gains 10 lbs., and learns to be happy with herself. Along the way, readers hear from a host of celebrities about food and dieting and what works for them, including singer Jennifer Hudson, late writer and director Nora Ephron, TV host Gayle King, and actress Kathleen Turner. Author of the previous bestsellers All Things at Once and Knowing Your Value, Brzezinski confesses that discussing the issue of food is “radioactive” for her, and her candor is sure to inspire readers trying to address their own unhealthy eating. Having already appeared for talks and signings at Washington, D.C.’s Politics and Prose; the Free Library of Philadelphia; Madison, Conn.’s R.J. Julia; and Manhattan’s Barnes & Noble in Union Square, Brzezinski will next sign books at BEA at 10 a.m. on Friday, May 31, and participate in a talk and signing with Smith at Connecticut’s Old State House in Hartford on June 19.—Jessamine Chan