Mitch Albom

  • Book

Though it didn’t sell as strongly as The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol moved more than 5.5 million copies to dominate Publishers Weekly‘s just-unveiled list of the best-selling hardcover books of 2009. A few other expected author names populate the Top 15, including John Grisham (No. 2 and No. 6), James Patterson (No. 5), and Patricia Cornwell (No. 12 and No. 14). Stephenie Meyer landed in the ninth spot with her 2008 sci-fi novel The Host, but the lack of a Twilight book was evident, particularly in the ascendancy of two entries from P.C. Cast’s Twi-lite House of Night series, which rose up to fill a vampire-shaped hole. The real surprise, though, is Kathryn Stockett’s The Help, which itself was helped by tremendous word of mouth to become the fourth best-selling fiction book of the year with 1.1 million copies sold. On the nonfiction side, it was politics, mainly conservative, that got the cash register ringing. Sarah Palin’s Going Rogue capped the list, but books by Glenn Beck, conservative radio host Mark Levin, and the late Edward Kennedy all made it into the top five.

Whereas sales of albums and movie tickets are tallied virtually in real-time, the figures for the publishing industry are often as closely guarded as the Colonel’s secret recipe, so PW’s yearly ranking offers one of the best snapshots of the literary marketplace. And while the top contenders on both the fiction and nonfiction lists sold millions of copies, the overall list reveals a far less rosy picture of book sales. The number of titles that sold at least 100,000 copies is down by significant double-digit percentages from 2008 in both fiction and nonfiction.

E-book sales figures weren’t included this year (they will be for 2010), but since digital editions rarely exceed 5 percent of a book’s total sales it’s unlikely that the 2009 sales list would have received a big boost from their inclusion. Here are the top selling books of 2009 (since some publishers did not provide PW exact sales figures, several titles’ rankings are based on estimates or sales figures provided in confidence for the purposes of ranking):

Hardcover Fiction

1. The Lost Symbol: A Novel, Dan Brown (5,543,643 copies)

2. The Associate: A Novel, John Grisham

3. Tempted, P.C. Cast (1,141,818)

4. The Help, Kathryn Stockett (1,104,617)

5. I, Alex Cross, James Patterson (1,040,976)

6. Ford County, John Grisham

7. Finger Lickin’ Fifteen, Janet Evanovich (977,178)

8. Hunted, P.C. Cast (931,219)

9. The Host: A Novel, Stephenie Meyer (912,165)

10. Under the Dome, Stephen King

11. Pirate Latitudes, Michael Crichton (855,638)

12. Scarpetta, Patricia Cornwell (800,00)

13. U Is for Undertow, Sue Grafton (706,154)

14. The Scarpetta Factor, Patricia Cornwell (705,000)

15. Shadowland, Alyson Noel (609,355)

Hardcover Nonfiction

1. Going Rogue: An American Life, Sarah Palin (2,674,684 copies)

2. Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man: What Men Really Think About Love, Relationships, Intimacy, and Commitment, Steve Harvey (1,735,219)

3. Arguing With Idiots: How to Stop Small Minds and Big Government, Glenn Beck

4. Liberty & Tyranny: A Conservative Manifesto, Mark R. Levin

5. True Compass: A Memoir, Edward M. Kennedy (870,402)

6. Have a Little Faith: A True Story, Mitch Albom (855,843)

7. It’s Your Time: Activate Your Faith, Achieve Your Dreams, and Increase in God’s Favor, Joel Osteen

8. The Last Lecture, Randy Pausch with Jeffrey Zaslow (610,033)

9. Stones Into Schools: Promoting Peace with Books Not Bombs, Greg Mortenson (515,566)

10. Superfreakonomics, Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner (487,977).

11. Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Julia Child (487,228)

12. Master Your Metabolism: The 3 Diet Secrets to Naturally Balancing Your Hormones for a Hot and Healthy Body! Jillian Michaels (486,154)

13. The Yankee Years, Joe Torre and Tom Verducci (397,954)

14. Open, Andre Agassi (383,722)

15. Time of My Life, Patrick Swayze and Lisa Niem

Mitch Albom
  • Book