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The bestsellers breakdown: Titanic takes it

Laura Hazard Owen

Happy Friday! Each week I’ll break down the USA Today and New York Times bestseller lists to note which books are selling better in digital than print formats. I’ll also provide the back story of one interesting bestselling e-book.

This week’s featured title

A Night to Remember” by Walter Lord (Open Road Media, list price $14.99). “A Night to Remember,” first published in print in 1955, its the New York Times nonfiction e-book bestseller list at #1 this week. (Another Titanic-related title, Byliner’s “Lifeboat No. 8” by Elizabeth Kaye, is at #2 on the nonfiction e-book list. It’s $1.99.)

The book tells the story of the fateful last hours on the Titanic, and Open Road timed its release around the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. “A Night to Remember” was the Kindle Daily Deal on April 13. The company started promoting the book about a month in advance of its publication with a Twitter campaign. Open Road sent promoted tweets with hashtags like #titanicheroes, did-you-know facts about the ship’s sinking. “Those sometimes linked back to the book but it was mostly just a hashtag,” says Open Road chief marketing officer Rachel Chou. The company also ran display ads through the Google Display Network and an ad through A&E on the History Channel’s Titanic website.

Most e-book retailers did roundups of Titanic books, Chou said. Nook and Apple included “A Night to Remember” in the Titanic roundups on their sites and Amazon included it in a Titanic e-mail sent to customers.

Price as of this writing on… Amazon: $8.54 | Apple: $9.99 | Barnes & Noble: $10.99 | Google: $8.54 | Kobo: $10.09 | Sony: $11.99

New York Times bestseller list, week of 4/29/12

Here are the titles in the top-35 that appear on the e-book bestseller list, but not on the print bestseller list. A * denotes that a title sold enough copies in digital format to make it to the “Combined Print & E-Book Best Sellers” list, and the # that follows the * denotes the position of the title on the combined list. Prices are e-book list price and do not take any retailer discounts into account. An [AP] denotes that agency pricing is currently in effect. I also mentioned whether Amazon offered a book as a Kindle Daily Deal in the past two weeks (thanks to the reader who suggested that).


2. ”Fifty Shades Darker,” E.L. James (Random House/Vintage)*(#2) $9.99 [AP]
3. ”Fifty Shades Freed,” E.L. James (Random House/Vintage)*(#4) $9.99 [AP]
7.  ”On the Island,” Tracey Garvis-Graves (self-published, Kindle only)*(#7) $2.99 [AP]
8. ”The Marriage Bargain,” Jennifer Probst (self-published)*(#10) $2.99 [AP]
9. “Tiger,” Laurann Dohner (Ellora’s Cave) $8.75
11. ”A Matter of Honor,” Jeffrey Archer (Macmillan/St. Martin’s)* $2.99 [AP]
21. “A Song of Ice and Fire” (4-volume series), George R.R. Martin (Random House) $29.99 [AP]
25. “Victims,” Jonathan Kellerman (Random House) $13.99 [AP]
29. “Rock Paper Tiger,” Lisa Brackmann (Soho Press) $14  Kindle Daily Deal 4/9/12
33. “Beautiful Disaster,” Jamie McGuire (self-published) $2.99 [AP]
34. “I’ve Got Your Number,” Sophie Kinsella (Random House) $12.99 [AP]


1. “A Night to Remember,” Walter Lord (Open Road)*(#1) $14.99. Kindle Daily Deal 4/13/12
2. “Lifeboat No. 8,” Elizabeth Kaye (Byliner)*(#1o) $1.99 
23. “Auschwitz,” Miklos Nyiszli (Skyhorse) $2.99
24. “In the Garden of Beasts,” Erik Larson (Random House/Crown) $12.99 [AP]
30. “A Stolen Life,” Jaycee Dugard (Simon & Schuster) $11.99 [AP]
31. “Unorthodox,” Deborah Feldman (Simon & Schuster) $10.99 [AP]
32. “Why Me?” Sarah Burleton (self-published) $2.99 [AP]
35. “Outlaw Platoon,” Sean Parnell (HarperCollins) $12.99 [AP]

USA Today bestseller list, week of 4/19/12

USA Today includes all formats and genres in one list and notes which format of a book sold best. Here are the titles in the top-30 where e-books outsold print, including their position on the list. Prices are e-book list price and do not take any retailer discounts into account. An [AP] denotes that agency pricing is currently in effect.

4. “Fifty Shades of Grey,” E.L. James (Random House/Vintage) $9.99 [AP]
5. “The Lucky One,” Nicholas Sparks (Hachette/Grand Central) $7.99 [AP]
6. “Calico Joe,” John Grisham (Random House/Doubleday) $12.99 [AP]
7. “Fifty Shades Darker,” E.L. James (Random House/Vintage) $9.99 [AP]
8. “Fifty Shades Freed,” E.L. James (Random House/Vintage) $9.99 [AP]
9. “The Hunger Games Trilogy,” Suzanne Collins (Scholastic) (three titles bundled together) $53.97
10. “Guilty Wives,” James Patterson (Hachette/Little, Brown) $12.99 [AP]
12. “A Game of Thrones,” George R.R. Martin (Random House/Bantam) $8.99 [AP]
13. “On the Island,” Tracey Garvis-Graves (self-published, Kindle only) $2.99 [AP]
16. “A Night to Remember,” Walter Lord (Open Road) $14.99
17. “The Marriage Bargain,” Jennifer Probst (self-published) $2.99 [AP]
18. “Come Home,” Lisa Scottoline (Macmillan/St. Martin’s) $12.99 [AP]
21. “Tiger,” Laurann Dohner (Ellora’s Cave) $8.75
25. “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” Stieg Larsson (Random House/Vintage) $9.99 [AP]
26. “Stay Close,” Harlan Coben (Penguin/Dutton) $12.99 [AP]
27. “The Girl Who Played with Fire,” Stieg Larsson (Random House/Vintage) $9.99 [AP]
28. “Defending Jacob,” William Landay (Random House/Delacorte) $12.99 [AP]
29. “A Matter of Honor,” Jeffrey Archer (Macmillan/St. Martin’s) $2.99 [AP]

Titanic Disaster” is from the Peabody Essex Museum’s Russell W. Knight Department of Maritime Art and History.