Most readers know by now that the "Fifty Shades of Grey" novels by E.L. James were the year's best-selling books.
Reports have said that the series has sold more than 60 million copies around the world even though most critics say it is poorly written. (As an aside, what's with her not using periods for the initials E.L.? They do apparently stand for her real name, Erika Leonard. Sometimes Harry S Truman didn't use a period for S, but it didn't stand for anything!)
This week Publishers Weekly looked to see how winning a National Book Award affected the sales of four books.
The awards certainly helped sales, the magazine found. But I wonder whether the numbers are as high as aspiring authors might assume.
Louise Erdrich, well known for her many books published over the years, won the fiction award for "The Round House."
But how many copies have sold? Fewer than 50,000, so far. Certainly that's respectable, and the book hasn't been on the market that long. It does point out, though, how literary fiction sales are far below the genre best-sellers.
According to PW:
Fiction winner Louise Erdrich's The Round House (Harper) sold 30,000 of its 47,000 copies since its victory, according to Nielsen BookScan. In its first week after winning, the book saw a 143% increase at outlets tracked by BookScan, going from 2,000 copies sold to 5,000 copies sold. Since its win, Erdrich's novel has steadily kept increasing in weekly sales, moving 9,000 copies for the week ending Dec. 9.
Katherine Boo's Behind the Beautiful Forevers (Random House), was already a success before it won the Nonfiction award, moving 75,000 copies, but its weekly sales jumped to 1,200 from 300 immediately following its win. Like The Round House, Forevers has steadily increased in weekly sales since the National Book Awards, and last week sold 7,000 copies.
Sales of Poetry winner David Ferry's Bewilderment (University of Chicago Press) have tripled since it won. The collection is now approaching 2,000 copies sold.
S&S/Margaret K. McElderry Books' Goblin Secrets by William Alexander, winner of the Young People's Literature award, had sold 825 copies preceeding its win. Since then, the book has sold 4,500 copies, almost 2,000 of which were in the week ending Dec. 9 – its best week by far – according to BookScan.