Fiction titles dominate lists* of 2012’s best selling books, a marked shift from the early 2000s when The Guardian reported “Although fiction still sells in great quantities and continues to produce stars, the attention of publishers and booksellers has moved elsewhere. Everyone in publishing agrees it is getting harder to sell a new novel, even by a distinguished name, in this country; book buyers seem interested only in non-fiction.”
Looking at the November 2012 partnership between powerhouse talent agency ICM and Washington, DC literary agency Sagalyn would suggest agents are looking to pad their lists with narrative non-fiction titles, even as recent book to film deals also bear this out. John Heilemann and Mark Halperin’s Game Change, based on the 2008 US Presidential campaign, was snapped up by HBO and earned multiple Emmys as well as Golden Globe nods. HBO has already optioned the Game Change sequel.
But while the trend favoring non-fiction seems to have continued among publishers and agents, in 2012, readers came out solidly for fiction, specifically general fiction and fantasy. What’s exciting is the top seller across all lists, E.L. James’ Fifty Shades of Grey, surprised the industry with the swiftness and muscularity of its success — proof that if a story finds and resonates with its intended audience, it will succeed no matter what the genre.
*Just before the end of 2012 Nielsen, Amazon, and Apple released lists of their top selling books. The lists above incorporate numbers from the last week of December and appear to include overall performance of adult and children’s titles combined.