Amy Poehler, Lena Dunham Books Debut on Par With Tina Fey's Megahit
New titles by Neil Patrick Harris and B.J. Novak also are heating up the holidays
This story first appeared in the Nov. 21 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
Publishing is having a strong fall season, led by Bill O'Reilly's Killing Patton (169,000 first-week copies, tops in nonfiction) and John Grisham's Gray Mountain (fiction's leader with 144,000 first-week units sold). It's also a big season for Hollywood authors, more of whom have been bitten by the writer bug. Here are three key takeaways.
1. AMY VS. LENA (AND TINA, TOO)
The big showdown this fall is between Lena Dunham's Not That Kind of Girl and Amy Poehler's Yes Please, both of which are aiming for a slice of the lucrative Bossypants pie (Tina Fey's book has sold more than 2.5 million copies since its 2011 debut). Each garnered a big advance (an eye-popping $3.7 million for Dunham, low seven figures for Poehler) and huge amounts of publicity. The result? A virtual tie. Dunham sold 38,000 copies during the first week after her book's Sept. 30 release, and Poehler moved 37,000 copies after her book's Oct. 28 release, according to Nielsen BookScan. Both numbers are on par with Fey's first-week sales of 38,000. The Christmas season will be a big tell to see whether either can keep pace with Fey, who moved 1 million copies her first year alone.
2. DOOGIE VS. THE PIRATE
Neil Patrick Harris and Cary Elwes are stars of beloved '80s hits (Doogie Howser, M.D. and The Princess Bride, respectively) whose careers have veered in opposite directions (Harris is hosting the Oscars; Elwes is headlining B movies). Their memoirs debuted Oct. 14. Harris' quirky Choose Your Own Autobiography came with more hype, but Elwes' As You Wish, focused tightly on his work in Bride, has edged it in sales, 31,000 to 27,000.
3. RETURN OF THE MEN
A pair of male comedians, B.J. Novak and Jim Gaffigan, are bucking the female-first trend. Novak, an alum of The Office who had modest success with his February short-stories collection One More Thing, has a certifiable best-seller in his book for young children, The Book With No Pictures, which has sold 69,000 copies since its Sept. 30 release. Gaffigan's Oct. 21 release Food, a riff on all things culinary, sold 20,000 copies during its first week, putting it on pace to outsell his 2013 book Dad Is Fat, which moved about 160,000 copies its first year.