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« Warner Brothers Cartoons and the Business of Art | Main | New Traditionalist Art »

July 02, 2003

Where Are They Now, and How Do They Sell?

Friedrich --

Book Magazine (which is evidently sponsored by Barnes & Noble) had the good idea of tracking down well-known authors who haven't been heard from recently and finding out what they've been up to. What's online here is only a sample of what's in the magazine, but you can still find out about Harper ("To Kill a Mockingbird") Lee and S.E. ("The Outsiders") Hinton. If you click here, you can look at a table showing how well many famous books of yore sell these days. It's a big graphic, so those with slow connections may want to give it a pass. Others will find much to be amused by: "The Scarlet Letter" outsold "Clan of the Cave Bear," which outsold "The Fountainhead," which outsold "Dune" ...



posted by Michael at July 2, 2003



Did you catch this quote from S.E. Hinton?

People think I've been sitting here in an ivory tower with minions or something. But I've been wandering around the Safeway wondering what to cook for dinner like everybody else," says Hinton, who still calls Tulsa her home ("I grew up here and my friends are here. There's nothing wrong with here," she explains).

Sorry, make that two great quotes.

Posted by: Friedrich von Blowhard on July 2, 2003 05:55 PM

"There's nothing wrong with here" -- that's great. Apparently S.E. Hinton is a Zen master too.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on July 2, 2003 06:06 PM

gosh, I've been wondering for years what ever happened to Rod McKuen! Not!

Posted by: Deb on July 2, 2003 11:01 PM

What about J. D. Salinger? Didn't like the book, but loved the model. That is, write one super-duper best-selling book that becomes a perennial seller forever, then retire from the world never to write or be heard from again, and just pick up the royalty checks for the rest of your well-paid and well-fed life. If only I could have written My One Big Book when I was 25 or so...

Posted by: Dwight Decker on July 2, 2003 11:07 PM

It seems that every one of the books in the Top 10 is assigned reading in highschool and college English classes nationwide and probably accounts for a lot of those sales. And, undermining the credibility of using ongoing sales as a litmus test for good lit, is the presence of my alltime least favorite book "A Separate Peace" as the #21 bestseller. I read it coz it was assigned in highschool, and a friend who is a HS English teacher says it is still highly recommended. And I still say "yuck."

And I do like Hinton's quote.

Posted by: annette on July 3, 2003 07:49 PM

Just on a lark, I considered the distribution in 10 year intervals starting from the latest possible year, 1998. The "decade" with the most books on the list was 1949-1958 (9); next was 1929-1938 (6); three decades, 1989-1998, 1969-1978 and 1939-48 were tied with (5); the lowest were the first three decades of the 20th century with only (4) between 1899 and 1928. It seems to suggest four favorite periods, each beginning 20 years apart--1929, 1949, 1969 and 1989. Perhaps its a generational pattern, and the earlier "generations" somehow have fallen off the map.

Posted by: Friedrich von Blowhard on July 3, 2003 10:41 PM

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