The 2012 Best-Selling Books

Watching book sales has been an endlessly fascinating piece of my journalistic life, and the recent analysis I published of 2012’s top-selling titles from USA TODAY’s Best-Selling Books list is no exception.

The top 10 (posted via a nifty datatables.js embedded table), reflects the year’s most prominent trend — two series from two authors accounted for seven of the top 10 slots and about 25% of the sales the list tracked.

The table also includes annual top 100 lists back to 2007.

One tidbit that didn’t get a lot of notice: constant favorite “To Kill a Mockingbird” passed 800 weeks on the USA TODAY list. From my view, the most welcome books news of the year.


The 2011 Best-Selling Books

In 2011, a year when consumers unboxed millions of e-readers, fiction dominated even more of USA TODAY’s Best-Selling Books list. Colleague Carol Memmott and I reported today that 78% of the titles in the weekly book lists last year were fiction, up from 67% in 2007. The finding is one of several covered in our annual look at trends off the book list:

“People are interested in escape,” says Carol Fitzgerald of the Book Report Network, websites for book discussions. “In a number of pages, the story will open, evolve and close, and a lot of what’s going on in the world today is not like that. You’ve got this encapsulated escape that you can enjoy.”

We’ve posted the 100 top-selling titles of 2011 in a handy data table that includes the annual lists back to 2007.

A Facelift for a Book List

The USA TODAY Best-Selling Books list has a new look and added interactivity, part of a relaunch of books coverage. It’s been a fun project that has been on my front burner for about three months.

I get to work with all kinds of data at USA TODAY, but the book list has been a constant. When I arrived at USAT in 1997, one of the first projects I took on was to build and analyze an archive of the list to mark its fifth anniversary. Since then, as that archive grew to hold nearly 18 years of data, we’ve used it to anchor stories about authors and trends in publishing. We’re awfully proud of the list, and people in the publishing industry tell us it’s one of the most accurate accounts of Americans’ weekly reading habits.

Last year, we opened the archives up to developers via a Best-Selling Books API. This year, giving the list itself a facelift was the next logical step.

We were fortunate to assemble a crack team of designers, developers and product managers who, in a short time, conceptualized, designed, redesigned, and coded an entirely new collection of book-related pages for our site. What’s new:

The 2010 Best-Selling Books

Update Jan. 17, 2012: The top selling books of 2011 are listed here, and in that table you can view lists back to 2007. The post below refers to the 2010 top-selling titles.

Original post:

Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy grabbed the top three spots in USA TODAY’s annual list of top-selling books, reflecting a broader move by readers toward fiction this year. The list of 2010’s best-sellers was part of a package published today wrapping up the year’s trends as reflected in USA TODAY’s Best-Selling Books list.

Shepherding the books list is one of those tasks I spend considerable time on and, over the years, it has become one of my favorite opportunities for data journalism. The well never seems to run dry on ideas, and with 17 years of data in our archives, there are plenty of opportunities to see how annual moves on the list stack up against long-term trends. Along with Larsson’s success, our book team’s report on trends highlighted titles and authors reaching No. 1, from Nicholas Sparks to George W. Bush.

Much of our book list data is open for developers. Check out the API for details.