2012’s Books By the Numbers

Andrew AlbaneseIn the New Year, it’s time for endings and beginnings, along with some reckonings. The numerically-inclined among the editorial staff of Publishers Weekly have turned in their tallies for 2012. There were more #1 bestsellers than ever over the last 12 months, though PW senior writer Andrew Albanese tells CCC’s Chris Kenneally why that’s not entirely cause for celebration.

“A record 89 top-sellers enjoyed a shot in the top spot in 2012, but 56% of those held on for only one week,” says Albanese. “Only three had a double-digit #1 run—Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James dominated the trade paper list for 31 weeks, Bill O’Reilly’s Killing Kennedy led the nonfiction hardcover charts for 11 weeks, and Nicholas Sparks’s The Lucky One enjoyed 10 weeks on the mass market list.”

And as the Random House/Penguin merger moves to fruition in 2013, the record for 2012 points to the combined company taking a dominant position in the market.

“In 2012, Random racked up 27% of the hardcover spots and 31.5% of the paperbacks. Penguin, meanwhile, continues to be #2 in the bestseller game, with 16% of the hardcover territory and 18% of paperback.,” Albanese notes. “If current trends hold, the effect will be stunning. In 2012, Random and Penguin accounted for 44% of hardcover bestesellers, and almost 50% of paperback—that means nearly half the bestseller market in print is suddenly poised to go to a single company.”

CCC’s podcast series marks the start of 2013 by also noting an ending. Our colleague Rose Fox is leaving us, but she can be still heard as co-host for Publishers Weekly Radio every Thursday, at 3:00 pm ET on SiriusXM Book Radio channel 80, and after airing, on SiriusXM On Demand.

Every Friday, CCC’s “Beyond the Book” speaks with the editors and reporters of “Publishers Weekly” for an early look at the news that publishers, editors, authors, agents and librarians will be talking about when they return to work on Monday.

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