Older Harry Potter fans will be happy to learn that J.K. Rowling’s first adult novel since the wizarding series, The Casual Vacancy was at the top of Publishers Weekly Bestseller List. With a #1 Debut, Rowling’s novel beat the E.L. James Fifty Shades of Grey phenomenon and Mark Owen’s No Easy Day by over 90,000 purchased copies. Casual Vacancy generated lots of publicity, not just for its magically famous author, but for the circumstances surrounding its publication, like nondisclosure agreements. According to a Publishers Weekly article by Louisa Ermelino, Casual Vacancy had an initial print run of 2 million copies from its Little Brown publisher.
Rowling’s success proves that print publishing is not being totally overpowered by e-books, despite the flux of sales statistics within the past two years. She had the third biggest print opening of 2012, according to Nielsen BookScan and 375,000 copies in its first six days on sale in different formats. Gabe Habash notes other authors who have seen print debut success in a Publishers Weekly article, including Charlaine Harris and Nora Roberts. In 2011, Harris’ Deadlocked sold 77,913 copies in its first week on sale, while Roberts’s recent The Last Boyfriend release sold over 80,000 copies duringits initial release week last May.
In terms of statistics, the publishing industry had more successful titles in 2011 than 2012, but it may go without saying that the attention this year’s releases have earned is near unparalleled. Habash believes that the November releases of Janet Evanovich’s Notorious Nineteen, and Jeff Kinney’s The Third Wheel as two of the titles that may increase 2012’s print sales. It is also interesting to read that Nielsen BookScan’s lists Stephen King’s new title, The Wind Through the Keyhole, had only a 59,099 print debut. Does this number disparity signify a change in trade book trends and a new wave of bestselling-author-staples-names? The indsutry will simply have to wait and see how the success of print runs progresses and if Rowling’s return to Number 1 is Casual or long-term.