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Random House Loses Big Authors; Charlaine Harris Dominates the Bestseller List

I've watched with some interest over the last few months at the rate at which Random House seems to be losing authors, big name authors.  Random House had a decline in last year's profit and so it's hard to say whether Random House is pushing off heavy debris to keep itself afloat or those authors are fleeing a sinking ship.
  • Iris Johansen (to SMP)
  • Tami Hoag (to Penguin)
  • Kelley Armstrong (to Penguin)
  • and most recently, Donna Tartt (author of The Secret History, one of the more amazing books I've read) (to Grand Central)

In other publishing news, Charlaine Harris is dominating the NYT Mass market list. It's a good thing that NYT has expanded the list from 15 to 20 books and that the Sookie Stackhouse series only has 7 mass market books because otherwise they'd have to rename the list to the Harris Bestseller List. 

For the last two weeks, Harris has had nearly all of her books on the main or extended list and this upcoming Sunday will see all of the Sookie Stackhouse titles on the main list.  The reason for this renewed interest is, of course, True Blood, the HBO original production produced and written by Alan Ball (Six Feet Under).  I think that there are nine weeks left to the True Blood television show and so it will be interesting to see if the book interest remains commesurate.  If nothing else, the Sookie success will help pay for Penguin's new acquisitions.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. DS
    Oct 02, 2008 @ 11:20:54

    Entertainment Weekly reported that a second season of True Blood has been ordered. It’s apparently one of HBO’s better rated shows at the present time.

  2. Rene
    Oct 02, 2008 @ 11:46:02

    That’s great news for Harris. I wonder if her other series will attract similar attention.

  3. Ann-Kat
    Oct 02, 2008 @ 12:32:38

    Definitely glad to see Harris’s success, but I just have to comment that the HBO series is not that good IMO. Yes it does have its moments and it’s twisted and quirky, but sometimes it crosses that should-never-be-crossed cheese line. Meh, I’ll give it a few more episodes and see how it evolves.

    It would be lovely to know her thoughts on it and whether she finds it a good visual representation of her characters/books.

  4. Corrine
    Oct 02, 2008 @ 13:39:21

    My thoughts exactly, Ann-Kat. Also, I have to say that the acting is so stiff that it becomes almost painful to watch (at least, to me), and I wish they had a voice-over narration by Sookie, kind of like they do on Dexter.

  5. Ann-Kat
    Oct 02, 2008 @ 16:25:40

    Corrine, it’s like you’re in my head. I couldn’t put my finger on what it was exactly that I didn’t like about the series (aside from the cheese factor), but you did it for me. The acting is stiff. Sure the subject matter is a bit unnatural, but it doesn’t mean the actors need to be. And having a Sookie narration might liven it up a bit.

  6. SonomaLass
    Oct 02, 2008 @ 17:04:18

    I haven’t seen the TV show yet — no HBO at my house, so I will have to wait for the DVDs, as usual. But I have a hard time imagining the Sookie stories without Sookie narration, since her voice is such a dominant aspect of the books. An interesting challenge, going from first person to third (if the camera is doing standard angles). Although my understanding from the preview I saw and several accounts I read was that there’s a little bit of “in Sookie’s head” perspective provided by the occasional clamor of thoughts she’s overhearing.

    I’m slowly working my way through Harris’ backlist and very much enjoying her short mysteries. Like the Sookie books, they have a nice sassy tone and a central character I enjoy — they also have the high body count, which is why I have to work my way through them slowly.

  7. MB (Leah)
    Oct 02, 2008 @ 17:29:25

    “but sometimes it crosses that should-never-be-crossed cheese line”

    “Also, I have to say that the acting is so stiff that it becomes almost painful to watch (at least, to me)”

    I’ve never read the books and wanted to watch the show but don’t have HBO. Blockbuster has the first show, so I watched it and I agree with what you both said.

    Even DH watched it with me and we both felt the dialogue was really cheesy and the acting very stilted and slow.

    In the meantime I’m listing to the first book on audio and I’m totally loving it! And the narrators voice is lot like Anna Paquin’s. Now I really want to watch the show, but will have to wait.

  8. Ann-Kat
    Oct 02, 2008 @ 18:18:09

    …there's a little bit of “in Sookie's head” perspective provided by the occasional clamor of thoughts she's overhearing.

    Erm. A little bit is the operative phrase there. Sure there’s the occasional clamor of thoughts, but it doesn’t have the true “in Sookie’s head” feel. A narration would have been much better IMO.

  9. Jane
    Oct 02, 2008 @ 18:23:52

    In Four Weddings and a Funeral, the only couple in a group of friends loses his partner. At the funeral, he recites a WH Auden poem “Funeral Blues.” It was so moving that I had to seek out other Auden poetry (secret confession, I used to read a ton of poetry when I was younger).

    The stars are not wanted now; put out every one,
    Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun,
    Pour away the ocean and sweep up the woods;
    For nothing now can ever come to any good.

  10. Evangeline
    Oct 03, 2008 @ 02:58:40

    Or they’re being lured away by more money. I believe they just lost Elizabeth Thornton to Penguin (Berkley) as well, as Jane Feather left for Pocket a while back. I also noticed that RH is reissuing a lot of their Loveswept titles. At least they still have Mary Balogh, Sherry Thomas and Madeline Hunter!

  11. Anion
    Oct 03, 2008 @ 03:49:54

    Jane, they issued a tape/CD of that actor reading a bunch of Auden poems. I have it; you might try searching for it on Amazon, as it’s lovely.

  12. pookie
    Apr 24, 2009 @ 10:59:50

    Meh, I think CH is a much better writter than what the series portrays of her characters. CH did such a wonderfully masterful job of describing what her characters look like, that it is very offputting to try to watch what HBO did to her wonderful books.
    Just a couple of examples…..
    Sookie is an blond with a Rack, A most bodacious set off gorgeous Ta-Ta’s for crying out loud. Wheres her boobs on the person portraying her in the series? Pft my cat has bigger chest hairs, And honestly I’m from the south. Louisiana is not but 35 min. drive from me. That accent, WTF it is sooo not a Louisiana drawl. Don’t know where she thinks she’s living but it sure isn’t louisiana with that type of accent.It totally turns me off of the person playing her.
    Then take the Bill character. It’s like he’s preening for the camera with no regard or thought to what is actually taking place around him. He doesn’t showcase the proper emotions and aloofness that is our Bill.

    I’ll stick to purchasing and reading CH’s books. There so much, well just MORE, than the series will ever be.
    KUDOS to you CH….

  13. AnneD
    Apr 24, 2009 @ 13:50:32

    Considering that the actress who plays Sookie is from New Zealand, and the actor playing her brother is from Aussie it’s not surprising the accents a little off :) It will probably improve with time.

    Like House. His accent is is as English as they come, but he does a wonderful American, doesn’t he :)

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