Best Selling Historical Fiction Books

Bestselling historical novels of 2009
Novels on New York Times Best Seller List - Brad Meltzer, About

This is the 3rd year in a row I'm posting info on the historical novels with the greatest reported sales. (See also the figures reported from 2008 and 2007.) The source for all of these is Publishers Weekly's annual Facts and Figures issue, and the corrected version of the article with the 2009 data appeared on April 5th.

Earlier this year, PW asked publishers to submit sales figures on titles that sold more than 100, 000 copies during 2009. Only sales to bookstores, wholesalers, and libraries counted. Book club editions and overseas sales did not. I've pulled out data on the historical novels on the list for easier browsing.

For the first time, we find two historical novels among the top 10 in hardcover sales in 2009:

#3 - Kathryn Stockett, The Help (1, 104, 617 copies)
#10 - Michael Crichton, Pirate Latitudes (855, 638)

The remainder of the top 10, and indeed most of the top 30, is comprised mostly of thrillers (John Grisham, James Patterson, David Baldacci, and Patricia Cornwell each had at least two entries), Nicholas Sparks, Stephenie Meyer's The Host, Nora Roberts, Danielle Steel, and the long-awaited continuation of Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time fantasy series. The top spot? Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol, at 5.5 million copies.

Others outside the top 30, all with sales from 350, 000 to 100, 000 copies, in descending order:

Diana Gabaldon, An Echo in the BoneBarbara Kingsolver, The LacunaJeannette Walls, Half-Broke Horses
Lisa See, Shanghai Girls
John Irving, Last Night in Twisted River
Philippa Gregory, The White Queen
Jeffrey Archer, Paths of Glory
Sandra Brown, Rainwater
Anne Rice, Angel Time
W.E.B. Griffin, The Honor of Spies
Carlos Ruiz Zafón, The Angel's Game
Jeff Shaara, No Less than Victory
Katherine Howe, The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane
Jude Deveraux, Days of Gold
Edward Rutherfurd, New York: The Novel
E.L. Doctorow, Homer & Langley
Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (was also on '08 list, plus sold 1.1 million copies in trade pb in '09)
Sandra Dallas, Prayers for Sale
Newt Gingrich and William R. Forstchen, To Try Men's Souls

How many have you read? For me, just Deliverance Dane and Guernsey, unless Wolf Hall can also be counted (see below). Lots of diversity in this list, with a nice combo of historical thrillers, literary titles, commercial and women's fiction, and some alternate history.

On the list of trade pb bestsellers for '09, in addition to the Shaffer/Barrows (which is #5 on that list, fiction and nonfiction combined), you'll find other book club favorites like Tatiana de Rosnay's Sarah's Key and Sara Gruen's Water for Elephants as well as David Benioff's City of Thieves, Jamie Ford's Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, and Toni Morrison's A Mercy, among others, plus, inexplicably, Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall. This is probably a mistake, since it's only available in hardcover. Reported sales were 180, 000 copies in '09, and keep in mind that it was published in November. (It won the Booker in early October.)

Source: readingthepast.blogspot.com


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2011-06-11 09:49:42 by Wyne_E_DemoTyke

William R. Forstchen is a Faculty Fellow & Professor of History at Montreat College, located near Asheville, North Carolina. He holds a Ph.D. in history from Purdue University with specializations in the American Civil War, Military History and the History of Technology.
He is a New York Times best-selling author of more than forty books with a diversity of topics ranging from his early works in science fiction, to his current focus on history and historical fiction. He has co authored seven best-selling novels with former Speaker Newt Gingrich on the Civil War, Pearl Harbor and most recently with the upcoming release of their novel Valley Forge


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