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.

‘Trouble on the Tray’ Wins EWA Award

Good news for our USA TODAY team that researched, reported and wrote the “Trouble on the Tray” series on school lunch safety: The Education Writers Association yesterday named it a winner in the 2009 National Awards for Education Reporting. The series — reported by Blake Morrison, Peter Eisler and Elizabeth Weise with data analysis by yours truly — received first prize in the “Large Media — Investigative Reporting” category.

I’m giving a talk this week at the IRE Computer Assisted Reporting conference on how we acquired and analyzed the federal data that helped fuel the story.

Major stories in the series include:

Schools in the dark about tainted lunches
Why a recall of tainted beef didn’t include school lunches
Fast-food standards for meat top those for school lunches
26,500 school cafeterias lack required inspections

Our series spurred congressional calls for reforms to USDA policies, and in February the agency announced tighter requirements on companies that supply food to the National School Lunch Program, including stricter testing of meat.

School Lunch series gets CW mention

USA TODAY’s series on school lunch quality, “Trouble on the Tray,” is included in a roundup of noteworthy investigative projects from 2009 by the non-profit investigative reporting team at California Watch. The stories were reported and written by Blake Morrison, Peter Eisler and Elizabeth Weise with data analysis by yours truly.

Also mentioned: The Washington Post’s investigation of the Metro Red Line crash and The New York Times’ series on toxic water.

From the item, by Mark Katches:

Just to be clear, this is by no means a comprehensive list. It represents only a small, informal survey about stories that some highly respected investigative journalists are buzzing about.

Indeed, every year I am amazed at the quality and depth of investigative reporting that American newsrooms continue to produce even as the industry fights hard times. It’s an honor to be mentioned in that company.