The Fall of a Dynasty?
Phil Robertson’s remarks earn a suspension from A&E; what will readers do?
Five books from the Duck Dynasty family are on our Hardcover Nonfiction and Trade Paperback lists this week, but will that success turn to ashes in the firestorm caused by Phil Robertson’s homophobic comments in the January issue of GQ? His comments—which seemed to equate homosexuality with bestiality, drunkards, swindlers, and other sinners—brought denunciations from GLAAD, the Human Rights Campaign, and other groups and spawned wide media attention week. (Stephen Colbert called last Thursday, Dec. 19, “a good day for ducks”). Howard Books publisher Jonathan Merkh released a statement distancing the house from Robetson’s opinions but averring that the reality TV star “has always treated one and all with the utmost respect regardless of political leaning, sexual orientation or religious views.” Merkh cites another quote from Robertson in the GQ piece: “I would never treat anyone with disrespect just because they are different from me. We are all created by the Almighty and like Him, I love all of humanity. We would all be better off if we loved God and loved each other.” (Robertson’s racist comments in the same article drew far less attention and opprobrium.) A&E has suspended Robertson from the Duck Dynasty show indefinitely, but Sarah Palin and Bobby Jindal, governor of Robertson’s home state of Louisiana, weighed in to defend him, and other supporters have launched online petitions for A&E to reverse its decision. As PW reported last week, S&S says it plans to keep Phil Robertson’s autobiography Happy, Happy, Happy—which in the GQ piece he admits to never reading—in stores; Nielsen reports it has sold nearly 600,000 copies in reporting outlets. Sales before the brouhaha put Happy, Happy, Happy at #15 on our Hardcover Nonfiction list, topped by Si-cology 1 and two editions of The Duck Commander Devotional, by Phil’s brother and son, respectively, at #8 and #13. A pink camo edition of the devotional is at #24, and Miss Kay’s Duck Commander Kitchen, by the Robertson matriarch, is at #1 on our Trade Paperback list. Whether readers continue to love the Duck Commander books in such great numbers remains to be seen.—Lyn Garrett
Love in the Library
Goodness, refuge, books, love—and supernatural intrigue—make a bestseller for Koontz.
Innocence by Dean Koontz debuts at #8 on our Hardcover Fiction list. A novel that defies classification, it is equal parts heart-wrenching romance, urban fantasy, and supernatural epic.
Addison Goodheart, whose innate goodness stands in stark contrast to the desolate world in which he lives, resides beneath a city of secrets, hidden from a society so threatened by his appearance that its citizens would kill him on sight. He moves by night, finding sustenance where he can. Books are his refuge, and he embraces the riches they have to offer. Traveling via a network of water mains and other hidden passages, Addison seeks escape in the city’s central library. It is there that he finds Gwyneth, the woman who changes his life.
She too dwells in seclusion, a fugitive from enemies who will do her harm if they ever find her. Although they have spent their lives in isolation, ever vigilant in keeping others from getting too close, Addison and Gwyneth discover an undeniable bond and together confront the mysteries and mortal perils of a world whose hour of reckoning draws near.
Koontz, who has more than 450 million books in print, has received coverage for Innocence in media such as USAToday.com, BuzzFeed.com, Wired.com, and Huffington Post. He also did a robust radio tour—nearly 30 interviews—during the first week of publication. Koontz will be doing a Google+ Hangout on Jan. 23.—Peter Cannon
S&S does a quick turnaround on a picture book based on a YouTube sensation.
What does the fox say? How about “Yay-ay-ay-ay-ay!” now that a picture book based on the wildly popular song from a pair of Norwegian brothers has debuted on our Children’s Picture Books bestseller list at #3 (just behind another viral sensation, the Elf on a Shelf books). The song and accompanying music video by brothers Vegard and Bård Ylvisåker (known collectively as Ylvis) first appeared on YouTube in September and rapidly racked up hits; “The Fox (What Does the Fox Say?)” has more than 290 million views to date. In November, Simon & Schuster acquired picture book rights to the project, which features artwork from Norwegian illustrator Svein Nyhus. “We actually started the process with the illustrator before we even uploaded the video to YouTube,” said Vegard Ylvisåker in a statement. “As we were working with the song it just felt like it had the potential of becoming an interesting book as well, mostly because all of a sudden we found ourselves wondering, what does the fox really say?”
Ylvis traveled to North America this month to celebrate the December 10 release of the book, with signings and events at Indigo Books in Toronto, Books of Wonder in New York City, and Barnes & Noble locations in New York City and Los Angeles. The duo also made several TV appearances, including a December 12 performance on Live with Kelly & Michael. Simon & Schuster is in its sixth printing of the book, for a total of 300,000 copies. S&S BFYR president and publisher Jon Anderson acquired the picture book on November 7, making it S&S’s quickest turnaround of a picture book to date—quick as a fox, one might say.—John A. Sellers
Gilbert’s ‘Signature’ Is a Return to Her Roots in Fiction
Her novel continues to have legs thanks to appearances on Colbert and year-end ‘best of’ lists.
Many of Elizabeth Gilbert’s fans might not know this, but the well-known memoirist has returned to her roots as a fiction writer with her novel, The Signature of all Things. With 73,546 copies sold to date, Gilbert’s third novel, her first in 13 years, has leapt to #19 on our Hardcover Fiction list, up from #35 the previous week. Viking says that sales doubled last week; the publisher attributes this to a perfect storm of rave reviews, its inclusion on numerous “best of 2013” media book lists, the approaching holiday, and an appearance on the Colbert Report on Dec. 11.
Gilbert always wanted to be a novelist, she says, but “fate intervened and led [her] into the world of memoir” with Eat, Pray, Love. Fearful that she may have lost her touch in terms of writing fiction, Gilbert admits to have done “10 times” more research than she needed to do about 19th-century science in preparation for writing what PW described in a starred review as a “big, old-fashioned story” about the life and times of Alma Whittaker, a Philadelphia botanist who travels the world in pursuit of both love and science. It’s a tale initially prompted by Gilbert’s desire, her publisher tells PW, to write an “epic gardening book” that also— in a nod to a 1784 edition of Cook’s Voyages that has been in her family for many years— included scenes set on the high seas. Not only did Gilbert’s research include long days in area libraries and archives, but she also traveled to some of the places where the novel is set: London, Amsterdam, and Tahiti. It was a sacrifice, Gilbert insists, that she just had to make for her work. —Claire Kirch