You can sum up the bestselling books of 2013 with a quartet of D-words: Dan Brown, Duck Dynasty, Diary and Divergent.
But don't forget the even bigger E-word: e-books.
Each spring, industry bible Publishers Weekly compiles annual bestseller lists based on figures provided by major publishing companies, ranking hardcover and trade paperback books that sell more than 100,000 copies. (The threshold is lower for e-books, higher for mass-market paperbacks.)
The 2013 numbers reflect several trends. New hardcover books are racking up lower numbers than they did a decade ago, while e-book numbers have continued to rise, although at a slower pace than they did for the last several years. The takeaway: E-books seem to be stabilizing at about 25 percent of sales for major publishers. (The PW rankings do not include self-published books.)
Lower total numbers for hardcovers are apparent in the smaller number of books that broke the 1 million mark. A decade ago in 2003, three hardcover books sold more than 2 million copies, and Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code sold more than 5 million. In 2013, only four books scored above 1 million: Brown's Inferno on the fiction list with 1.7 million and, on nonfiction, No. 1 Killing Jesus by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard at 1.5 million followed by two from the Duck Dynasty dudes, Happy, Happy, Happy by Phil Robertson and Si-Cology 1 by Si Robertson, each with 1.2 million. (Several other Duck books showed up in hardcover and paperback rankings as well.) The nonfiction list also has an all-time high of 22 books about cooking and nutrition, almost 25 percent of the total 89 books on the list.
There are noticeable differences between the hardcover and e-book bestseller lists, chief among them being that the Duck folks don't sell nearly as well in digital formats — Happy, Happy, Happy barely made it into the top 100 on that list, coming in at No. 91 with 163,923 copies.
Books high on the fiction list, though, tended to do comparably well in digital form. Inferno sold another 1.3 million copies as an e-book. And Florida writer Carl Hiaasen's latest caper, Bad Monkey, actually sold more e-books (169,325) than hardcovers (167,116).
On the mass-market paperback list, George R.R. Martin's Game of Thrones books commanded five of the top seven slots. The other two were taken by John Grisham's The Racketeer and Harper Lee's classic To Kill a Mockingbird, while another classic, F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby (no doubt boosted by the movie version) topped the trade paperback list with 1.1 million copies.
Last year's million-pound gorilla, the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy, was less, um, dominant, but it still sold more than 4 million copies combined in paperback and digital formats.
Among hardcover books for young readers, the single-book standout was Hard Luck: Diary of a Wimpy Kid #8 by Jeff Kinney, with 3 million copies. (It only made No. 23 on the kids' e-book list, with 110,607.) The champion series was Veronica Roth's Divergent trilogy, which sold 6.3 million copies in hardcover, paperback and e-book.
Tampa resident Michael Connelly, a perennial presence on the bestseller lists, came in at No. 17 on the hardcover list with The Gods of Guilt. The latest Mickey Haller courtroom thriller, it was published in December and sold an impressive 317,877 copies by the end of the year. His 2012 Harry Bosch novel, The Black Box, sold 303,089 e-books, and several other Connelly titles ranked on the paperback and e-book lists.
Part-time Casey Key resident Stephen King's Doctor Sleep was No. 2 on the hardcover list with 942,435 copies, and No. 20 on e-books with 396,191.
But the Florida-based writer with the most appearances on 2013 bestseller lists is James Patterson. The Palm Beach denizen, working with several co-authors, has books on almost every list. Cross My Heart is No. 8 on the hardcover list, Private #1 Suspect is No. 13 on mass market paperback, Alex Cross, Run is No. 15 on e-books, How I Survived Bullies, Broccoli, and Snake Hill is No. 13 on kids' hardcovers — the only thing Patterson doesn't seem to have done is collaborate with the Duck Dynasty guys on a diet book. At least not yet.
Colette Bancroft can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8435.