Historical Fiction Books Bestsellers

Bestselling historical novels of 2012
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This annual look at the bestselling historical novels in the U.S. from the past year is online a little late. Publishers Weekly's Facts & Figures issue, which listed the hottest-selling titles from 2012, was published on March 18th. The subtitle of Daisy Maryles' compilation for hardcovers is "Familiar names dominate, but units continue to erode." In other words, we're seeing many of the same authors on the list, but fewer print editions are being sold... whereas for e-books, sales have exploded.

The usual disclaimer-y preface applies. Books with hardcover domestic print sales over 100K were included in PW's list; publishers were asked to take returns into account through 2/15, but these figures weren't often available at the time.

Here are the historical novels that made it on the list. See also my previous posts on this topic from 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008 and 2007.

Among the top 15, there's only one historical novel:

#7 Ken Follett, Winter of the World, at 400, 000+ copies.

Other mega-popular titles: J.K. Rowling's The Casual Vacancy was at #1 with 1.3 million copies sold. We also have the usual suspects like James Patterson and John Grisham, plus other mysteries and thrillers, including Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl at #3.

Other historical novels with 100K+ hardcover copies sold, in descending order of sales:

Deborah Harkness, Shadow of Night (at 170, 000+ copies)
Hilary Mantel, Bring Up the Bodies
Dennis Lehane, Live By Night
Amor Towles, Rules of Civility
Ayana Mathis, The Twelve Tribes of Hattie
M.L. Stedman, The Light Between Oceans
Clive Cussler and Justin Scott, The Thief: An Isaac Bell Adventure
Ian McEwan, Sweet Tooth
Jeffrey Archer, Sins of the Father
Christopher Moore, Sacre Bleu

Most of these are continuing volumes in popular series, or new releases from previously bestselling authors. PW notes that Rules of Civility and The Light Between Oceans are debut novels with "glowing reviews and impressive sales." So is Twelve Tribes of Hattie, which was also, of course, an Oprah book club pick; note also that it came out on December 6th, so we may see it on next year's list, too. Sweet Tooth is set in 1972, so not everyone will call it historical fiction, but it was promoted as such by the publisher.

Source: readingthepast.blogspot.com


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