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    Bridge Ladies Sometimes I think a meteor could strike the earth and wipe out mankind with the exception of my mother’s Bridge club — Roz, Bea, Bette, Rhoda, and Jackie — five Jewish octogenarians who continue to gather for lunch and Bridge on Mondays as they have for over fifty years. When I set out to learn about the women behind the matching outfits and accessories, I never expected to fall in love with them. This is the story of the ladies, their game, and most of all the ragged path that led me back to my mother.
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I Feel Like A Number

It’s that time of the year when Publishers Weekly releases its “Facts and Figures 2010” issue. I fuckin’ love this issue. It’s pulling back the curtain on real sales figures which publishers, agents, and writers all lie about, inflating their performance like a frat boy on a Sunday morning. Plus, it’s just damn fascinating to see what sells and sells. Going through the list this year didn’t yield any major surprises or screamers. Though a new fiction king was crowned:

Number 1 fiction: the Stiegster. THe Girl Who Kicked the Hornet Best (1,900,000)

Top selling LITREE fiction at #7: you got it: Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom’s Just Another Word (761, 701)

Number 1 non-fiction: The Decider (2,653, 565) Honorable mention to Laura at #12 (605,000) Spoken from the Heart. (As you know, I prefer to speak from my ass). Chelsea Handler and Jon Stewart are in the top ten, big swearers both. Keith Richards is #4 (811,596); that should buy a lot of blow.

Mark Twain #22. Jay-Z #26

In Kase you were wondering, Kardashian Konfidential  by Kim, Kourtney, and Khloe sold 117,674 copies.

Simple Times: Crafts for Poor People by love bug Amy Sedaris sold 154, 458. Brother David sells (420,473) with Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk. What I’d give to go to their Thanksgiving.

Some celebrity stats: Sarah Palin’s America by Heart (797,955) Sexy Forever Suzanne Sommers sold (218,340) I am Ozzy came in at 145,364. Me by Ricky Martin sold 135,000. Unbearable Lightness by Portia De Rossi (180,000), Condy’s Extraordinary Ordinary People clocks in at 116, 643. Is it Just me? Or is it Nuts out There by Whoopi Goldberg (it’s you) sold 108,866).

Do you read the bestseller list? Do you care?

36 Responses

  1. I don’t read best seller lists from the source. I read them via bloggers who second-hand-smoke them my way.

    Thanks, Betsy.

  2. Always read the list. Always sigh and occasionally sneer.

    I would give up every holiday for the rest of my life for a single Thanksgiving with the Sedaris family.

    • I’m with Sherry. I want a Sedaris family holiday, preferably with Amy in a fat suit. I also read the list. All the lists. I’m a list whore. I count like Lawrence Welk: and a one, and a two, ….

      Of those listed here: I liked Unbearable LIghtness and recommended it. No Steigs for me. Read enough of Freedom to hate Patty, but didn’t hate them as much as Laura’s perfect West Texas family or The Decider.

      Sexy Forever? Crissy is onto something.

  3. #7, Sh*t My Dad Says cracked me up.

    #10, Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang, not so much. I prefer Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea.

    The Whoopi Goldberg was a real disappointment.

  4. Not a disciple to The List, but it’s interesting to see what is making the $. It would also be interesting to discover how many Kopies the Kardashians bought.

  5. The precision of those figures goes well with Mr. Clemens.

  6. Lies, damned lies, and statistics?

  7. I’m wondering if GWB ever actually read the book that he “wrote.”

  8. Is it just me or does Mark Twain look like an older Tom Selleck?

    • Well, it’s not just you now. . .

    • The hand in that image is bugging the hell out of me. It’s like wax. Not a wrinkle, even across the knuckles.

      • In addition to his writing, Mark Twain was also famous for his bad business decisions.

        I believe that the only wise business investment he ever made was in the Palmolive Soap Company.

        He was so enamored with the product that he crafted two slogans for it that are now widely acknowledged to me among the most memorable in advertising history.

        The first was: “Palmolive: Softens Your Hands while You Do the DIshes.”

        The other: “Relax, you’re soaking in it.”

        Regarding the latter, Twain was so pleased with it that he even agreed to appear in the first print ad to feature the slogan. In the ad, he is getting a manicure from a woman named Madge.

        Twain’s hands are reported to have been as soft as the Corinthian leather in Ricardo Montalbán’s Chrysler Cordoba.

        “Palmolive: Softens Your Hands while You Do the DIshes.”

      • I’m going to start soaking my face in Palmolive.

      • Bobbi, STOP! I was wrong about the Palmolive. It turns out that the secret to Twain’s smooth hands was his lifelong affiinity for artificially inseminating cattle.

        I don’t know if you live near a cattle ranch, or exactly how one would go about getting smoother looking facial skin via Twain’s technique, but, nonetheless, there’s no need to waste money on Palmolive.

    • YES!!! My thoughts exactly, it’s freaking me out…

      B

  9. I didn’t know there was such a list, and I’m kind of surprised at the numbers. Except for the No. 1s, they seem awfully low. How does anybody make any money? (Is that a duh question?)

    I haven’t read any of the books mentioned, and the only one I’m likely to is Keith Richards’s. And I’m getting it at the library. He doesn’t need my 24 bucks or whatever.

  10. Three thoughts:
    A. Note to Jonathan Fucking Franzen: Eat me.
    B. I cannot believe anyone, never mind hundreds of thousands of people, actually reads some of these books. It would be great if some kind of sensor – the equivalent of the old un-cut pages– could be put in books and report back to PW or Google or the CIA whether / how many people actually read past page 12.
    C. I have a friend who revealed to me recently that her first book for which she received a $500K advance sold 100K copies roughly split 40/60 hard-soft. I sat down and did the math: even she didn’t earn out. It’s three years later and she’s still working on book two. Book one took a a few years too. So even the people with $500K advances and 100000 copies sold can’t actually make a real living writing books. This country is like a 3000 mile wide Cyclops cave and the back portions of it are filling up with the bones of the decent. Old Cyclops just be chewin’ us up and spitting us out.

    • Hundreds of thousands of people don’t read these books. They’re not even books, they’re BSOs–book shaped objects. People buy them like they buy T-shirts with logos. They’d read Duraflame logs if they saw the right name on them. They’re reading Steig because they can’t believe what a groundbreaking character that is, a Tough Chick Computer Hacker Wiz OMG!!111!1, the kind of people who gasp in shock when the camera pulls back to reveal that the fat unshaven techie is … in a wheelchair. They never saw that before, a dozen times–plus everyone’s reading it, and they’ve gotta meet their quota of one book every sixteen months, because they’re the ‘brainy one’ in their shitty little group of friends, and appearances, appearances. You’ve got earnest pear-assed schmuck Jon Stewart, who thinks everyone should just get along and is funny on TV so of course I want to buy his book and re-read his jokes to pinpoint the moment at which everything fresh and surprising dissolves, and the Sedaris twins who give NPR subscribers the illusion that they’re funny and hip, both of them still clinging after fifteen years to the exhausted bootstraps of the elf and the fudge bandit, and nothing since that’s risen to the level of a bad Tracy Ulman skit, but hey, I get a free bumpersticker with my membership. Then you’ve got the un-people, The USA Fund for American America, sponsored in part by the Sons of John BIrch Foundation, who give a million copies of Bush’s shit-dildo to whiteskin redstate dead-enders so they can fuck themselves in the ass while fantasizing about a three-way with John Galt and Dagny Taggart.

      I got a six figure advance and sold 20,000 copies–I think. I can’t read the statements any more. They undermine my natural cheeriness. Betsy–how common is it for a book not to earn out, but for the publisher to still do just fine? Not at my level of pathetic, but Vince’s friend made some real money for her publisher, no? I think writers believe that if -you- don’t earn out, -they- don’t earn out.

      • Until this point Howard Roark was the pulse between my shanks. Clearly I’ve got more reading to do.

      • I didn’t mean the publisher made no money. I meant she could not expect to get a similar advance — she might, but she can’t expect it — so, let’s say she gets $250,000 so that over say 7 years she earns 750,000 less agent’s fee makes for an annual income of $90K except if it was paid over multiple years — each advance — then she would have paid a huge sum in social security medicaid tax — 17 percent of the total quite possibly, before Federal, state and local income tax. With two kids this is the “just shoot me” income bracket in the US. Having been unemployed and utterly broke, as well as in the other bracket, I can say the other bracket lacks the clarity of being broke. it has most (not all, but most) of the pain and stress however.

        and this is waaay better than most professional writers, published and respected though they might be, can expect to do from their books.

      • There you are. You don’t write, you don’t call…

  11. No. Never read it. I hate being told what to do.

    By the way, do you think Keith Richards knows he wrote a book?

  12. Don’t read. Don’t read book review. Am in the dark.

  13. You gotta read the lists. If for no other reason but to ask yourself what the fuck?

  14. The only book I have followed on the list is Water for Elephants. I know Sara Gruen (she blurbed my last book). She wrote WFE in a tiny closet on a tiny desk because it was the only place in her “then” house where she could be alone.

  15. Yes, I feel like a number; I’ll have one of those zeros or two.

  16. In my next life, I’m coming back as NUMBERS. I’m sick of being WORDS.

    @Bonnie: liked your website.

    @MacDougal: good one!

  17. Nope and not very much.

  18. This is the first time I saw the list; never read these things. And the only book(s) I read on said list is Stieg’s “Girl” books…and I absolutely loved every one of them.

  19. I like looking at the best seller list. I am honestly surprised about Chelsea Handler. For crying out loud, I can write better than her!

  20. I don’t read the bestseller list. What’s it to me? I need to be reminded once again that I’ve been beaten at the game of life by Suzanne Somers? Sexy Forever. She doesn’t even realize that’s a curse.

  21. I read all that stuff–it’s the pissed off peasant in me making an assassination list and the librarian in me noting literacy rates and readership decline and writer in me fishing for some hope.

  22. Rebecca Black and the company that produced her hit crap song, “Friday” are making millions on the fact that she/they made a hit crap song! People will pay $ to ingest crap and any of it’s derivatives because that’s the twisted soulless culture we live in. Who cares who’s on the freakn’ best seller list?! Who is writing something that will shed some light on our spiritually bankrupt society!

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