The Bestselling Books of 2012

January 7, 2013

Top of the Charts

 

Half of the top 20 bestselling books of 2012 in print were either Fifty Shades titles or Hunger Games titles, and only one book not written by E.L. James or Suzanne Collins—Jeff Kinney’s latest Wimpy Kid title—cracked the one-million-copies-sold mark for the year, according to Nielsen BookScan, which tracks 75%-80% of print sales. Authors with multiple bestselling books extended past James and Collins, too: for print, Kinney and Bill O’Reilly had two books each in the top 20; for e-books, George R.R. Martin and Sylvia Day had two books in the Amazon Kindle top 20, further proving readers’ preference for fiction when reading electronically (No Easy Day was the only nonfiction book to make Kindle’s top 20).

What this means is that, in 2012, books not part of a successful series or brand had a much tougher time, at least at the very top of the bestseller lists. Even books from bestselling authors did not do as well as books from bestselling series, as Fifty Shades and the Hunger Games topped big-name authors like John Grisham and James Patterson, the latter not appearing on any top 20 list. One book that bucked that trend was Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, which crossed 700,000 copies sold on BookScan just before the year ended. Flynn sold over 100,000 more copies than J.K. Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy, and was only a few thousand copies behind Rick Riordan’s The Mark of Athena, to make her book the #14 bestselling print book of 2012. The discrepancies between Nielsen’s top 20 and Amazon’s top 20 (both print and Kindle) remained consistent with PW’s 2012 midpoint analysis of book sales: reference and self-help books see a huge percentage of their sales from Amazon. The Official SAT Study Guide, StrengthsFinder 2.0, and the American Psychological Association’s official manual cracked Amazon’s print top 20, but did not make BookScan’s top 20. Another Amazon anomaly is Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken, which snuck into the top 20 for print, despite being first published in 2010.

Unbroken’s long-tail success is part of a larger trend evident in the bestseller lists—that just because a book is a bestseller in 2012 doesn’t mean it was published in 2012. In fact, eight of BookScan’s top 20 books were published before 2012, including Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling, which was published in 2004. Another non-2012 release, Stephen King’s 11/22/63, finished as Kindle’s #19 bestseller of the year, thanks in part to its discounted $3.99 price tag. But for Kindle, there was no bigger success story than Helen Bryan’s War Brides, which was first published in 2007 and rereleased by AmazonEncore in June 2012, needing just over six months to become the #14 Kindle bestseller of 2012.

Bestselling Books of 2012
Nielsen Bookscan Top 20 Amazon Kindle Top 20 Amazon Print Top 20
1. Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James (Vintage) 1. Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James (Vintage) 1. Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James (Vintage)
2. Fifty Shades Darker by E.L. James (Vintage) 2. Fifty Shades Darker by E.L. James (Vintage) 2. Fifty Shades Darker by E.L. James (Vintage)
3. Fifty Shades Freed by E.L. James (Vintage) 3. Fifty Shades Freed by E.L. James (Vintage) 3. Fifty Shades Freed by E.L. James (Vintage)
4. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic)1 4. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic) 4. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic)
5. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic) 5. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic) 5. StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath (Gallup Press)
6. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic) 6. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic) 6. Fifty Shades Trilogy Box Set by E.L. James (Vintage)
7. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Third Wheel by Jeff Kinney (Amulet Books) 7. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (Crown) 7. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic)
8. No Easy Day by Mark Owen (Dutton) 8. The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic) 8. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic)
9. Killing Kennedy by Bill O’Reilly (Henry Holt) 9. Bared to You by Sylvia Day (Berkley) 9. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Third Wheel by Jeff Kinney (Amulet Books)
10. Fifty Shades Trilogy Box Set by E.L. James (Vintage) 10. The Racketeer by John Grisham (Doubleday) 10. No Easy Day by Mark Owen (Dutton)
11. Killing Lincoln by Bill O’Reilly (Henry Holt) 11. Reflected in You by Sylvia Day (Berkley) 11. The Hunger Games Trilogy Box Set by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic)
12. Jesus Calling by Sarah Young (Thomas Nelson) 12. The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks (Grand Central) 12. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (Crown)
13. The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan (Hyperion) 13. Defending Jacob by William Landay (Delacorte) 13. The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan (Hyperion)
14. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (Crown) 14. War Brides by Helen Bryan (AmazonEncore) 14. The Official SAT Study Guide, 2nd Edition by the College Board (The College Board)
15. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic)2 15. A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin (Bantam) 15. A Song of Fire and Ice, Books 1–4 by George R.R. Martin (Bantam)
16. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic)3 16. The Innocent by David Baldacci (Grand Central) 16. Killing Kennedy by Bill O’Reilly (Henry Holt)
17. The Hunger Games Triology Box Set by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic) 17. No Easy Day by Mark Owen (Dutton) 17. Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (Amer. Psychological Assn.)
18. The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling (Little, Brown) 18. A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin (Bantam) 18. Killing Lincoln by Bill O’Reilly (Henry Holt)
19. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever by Jeff Kinney (Amulet Books) 19. 11/22/63 by Stephen King (Scribner) 19. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand (Random House)
20. The Racketeer by John Grisham (Doubleday) 20. The Help by Kathryn Stockett (Berkley) 20. Proof of Heaven by Eben Alexander (Simon & Sch
There are no comments yet, add one below.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.