Times Talk (11th April)

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Combined Print & E-Book Fiction: As expected, J.R. Ward’s latest book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series, The King, debuts at number one, a position it also holds on both the e-book fiction and hardcover fiction lists. That’s no mean feat in this day and age when so many publishers are worried about readers abandoning print for the Kindle. Ward’s fanbase are dedicated to this series although it remains to be seen for how long The King can hold that position. Will it remain king of the hill for a few more weeks or will the release bubble burst now that the core base has the book? Another writer with a loyal readership, Mary Higgins Clark, takes the silver spot with her newest novel I’ve Got You Under My Skin. Laurelin Page’s bargain e-book The Fixed Trilogy is holding strong at number 3, showing you should never doubt the power of the 99c deal or the ingenuity of self-publishing.

Combined Print & E-Book Non-Fiction: Michael Lewis, the financial journalist with an eye for a great story, has another hit on his hands with Flash Boys, a searing and well-received account of high-frequency computerised trading in the stock markets. That may not sound like number 1 bestseller material but Lewis is the man who turned using statistics to improve a sporting team into the page-turning Moneyball. Another interesting debut in the top five isn’t a new release. Upstairs at the White House: My Life With the First Ladies was written by J.B. West over 40 years ago. West, a former usher at the White House, documented his time with the Kennedys, Roosevelts and Nixons (one can only presume Lyndon B. Johnson’s family were less exciting). Other debuts this week include a ‘libertarian manifesto by the president and CEO of FreedomWorks’ (I’m keeping my mouth shut), a book by the wives of Duck Dynasty (still keeping my mouth shut) and a woman recounting her mother’s experience in World War 3 era Germany. Speaking of non-fiction and eyebrow raising, Jordan Belfort’s memoir of debauchery and snorting cocaine from the butt cracks of sex workers, The Wolf of Wall Street, is listed as a “business book”. I can’t tell you how terrifying it is to think of stockbrokers taking inspiration from that man.

Children’s Middle Grade: Very little change-around this week. Rush Limbaugh’s hanging in there, along with a debut charter, Bill O’Reilly’s The Last Days of Jesus, because some parents have gotten creative with punishment tactics for their kids. The novelisation of Frozen keeps the top spot, and Shannon Hale makes it two weeks in the top 10 with her latest middle grade novel, Ever After High, The Unfairest Of Them All.

Young Adult: *sigh* Dorothy Must Die, the latest exploitative assembly line project by James Frey and the person listed as author (Danielle Paige) debuts at number 14. While this isn’t unexpected – the book did have an ad campaign that reached far and wide, including extensive coverage in Entertainment weekly – it’s still hugely depressing. You’re not supposed to encourage people like Frey! The teeny tiny silver lining from this is that with the inclusion of Paige, the YA list now has 5 places held by women, although only Rainbow Rowell and Eleanor and Park takes its place in the top 10. If we include co-writers, the list is just under half female. Six places in the top ten are held by two men. Yay for my gender’s domination of the genre.

Children’s Series: I find it very interesting that Abbi Glines’s Sea Breeze series, which enters at number 4, is considered a children’s series when it has been widely marketed as adult in many stores and on many blogs, or new adult at a stretch. Half of the children’s list is female, so that’s comforting, although it’s also pretty white (the same can be said for both middle grade and YA lists, and indeed publishing in general). It will be very interesting to see how long the Divergent series can hold onto that top spot for. I don’t see it sliding any time soon.

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