Hardcover bestsellers 2011 - SF vs. fantasy

Discussion in 'Writing' started by Laer Carroll, Mar 24, 2012.

  1. Laer Carroll

    Laer Carroll LaerCarroll.com

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    The following list shows the SF/F/H books which sold more than 100,000 copies in 2011. They are taken from the following Web page.

    http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/new-titles/adult-announcements/article/51181-lower-unit-sales-fewer-titles.html

    Only two are SF (Micro & Reamde). And those are what I call Hardly SF. They take one tiny step into the future - if that. The world is the same as ours, and extrapolates one advance in technology. The first in microbiology, the second in computers.

    Though I suppose you could argue that Stephen King's book is SF. But the time portal has no explanation, not even a hint of one.

    11/23/1963. Stephen King. Scribner (11/08). 919,524.
    A Dance with Dragons. George R.R. Martin. Bantam (7/12). 750,000.
    Micro. Michael Crichton. Harper (11/22). 537,835.
    Dead Reckoning. Charlaine Harris. Ace (5/3). 500,000.
    77 Shadow Street. Dean Koontz. Random House (275,000).
    The Night Circus. Erin Morgenstern. Doubleday (218,000).
    State of Wonder. Ann Patchett. Harper (214,664).
    Ghost Story. Jim Butcher. Roc (190,420).
    A Discovery of Witches. Deborah Harkness. Viking.( 175,000+)
    The Wise Man’s Fear. Patrick Rothfuss. DAW (144,122).
    Shadow Fever. Karen Marie Moning. Delacorte (141,101).
    Out of Oz. Gregory Maguire. Morrow (140,149).
    Retribution. Sherrilyn Kenyon. St. Martin’s (137,542).
    Hit List. Laurell K. Hamilton. Berkley.( 125,000+)
    Pale Demon. Kim Harrison. Morrow (115,252).
    Dark Predator. Christine Feehan. Berkley. (100,000+)
    The Omen Machine. Terry Goodkind. Tor (108,809).
    Reamde. Neal Stephenson. Morrow (100,047).
     
  2. wwfward

    wwfward Registered User

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    I know it's YA and the list only covers hardcover, but The Hunger Games should be in the sci fi column in this match up. With that said, sci fi and fantasy shouldn't be pitted against each other!
     
  3. Laer Carroll

    Laer Carroll LaerCarroll.com

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    I wondered about Hunger Games too when I went through the list. I recently saw a claim that it has sold 26 million copies world-wide.

    It was not on the PW 2010 and 2009 lists, either.

    http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/publisher-news/article/46541-the-winning-game-2010-hardcovers-facts--figures-2011.html
    http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/print/20090323/1686-bestselling-books-2009-hardcover-old-and-new-.html

    The reason is that for PW "Hardcover" really means "Hardcover Adult". They have a separate list labeled Childrens which includes YA as well as MG and younger books.

    PW also has separate lists for Trade PB, Mass Market PB, and (as of a year ago) Ebooks. However, PW excludes ebooks costing less than $5.00 (so all three of my Amazon/B&N books are excluded).
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    Last edited: Mar 24, 2012
  4. Laer Carroll

    Laer Carroll LaerCarroll.com

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  5. wwfward

    wwfward Registered User

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    With Hunger Games and its success in YA, it just goes to show sci fi can garner a huge readership in the book world. I don't know if publishers are rejecting more sci fi queries or there are not as many authors writing sci fi as there are in fantasy but the audience is there.

    In the other media like film and tv, scifi and fantasy are at parity and sci fi may even trump it a bit due to the superhero movies. But in the book world, fantasy has achieved more hits. That's not a bad thing per se as I am a fan of both sci fi and fantasy, but if I was being truthful, I'm a wee bit partial to sci fi.
     
  6. Laer Carroll

    Laer Carroll LaerCarroll.com

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    I'd like to think that. But I've long noticed the larger reading public most often embraces SF which I call Hardly SF. The Hunger Games is like most dystopias. They are technically SF because they take place in the future. And often the backstory includes a scientific or technological disaster.

    But the setting of the stories are little different from our modern world. Or the setting is a reset to a familiar earlier, apparently simpler world. The Hunger Games setting is essentially North Korea, or Afghanistan, or Somalia, with a few modernistic flourishes such as reality TV.

    Steampunk stories are similar to most dystopias. The setting is retro, most often Victorian. The technology and science is that of the late 19th century. Or early 20th century before electronics became an important part of daily life.

    Even supposedly far-future settings are usually modern-day or historical at bottom. The Star Wars sagas are essentially Hong-Kong martial arts stories with a modernistic white-wash; the Jedi are samurai. Isaac Asimov's Foundation setting is a rehash of the Roman Empire and the story a rehash of the Empire's fall.

    The general reading public is not happy with settings or stories outside a narrow range of familiarity. If we try to cater to that audience we venture outside that box at our peril.