Did you get into the craze for adult colouring books? It wasn’t something I felt I had the time or inclination for – or really understood – but it certainly appealed to many people. I’ve noticed that they (colouring books) are eventually dropping out of the top spots on the bestseller lists in both Australia and America. However, the trend isn’t over yet. A little publishing birdie told me one publisher’s biggest decision this Christmas is whether to say yes to a print run of 100,000 or 200,000 for their Christmas colouring book in the Aussie market. Go figure.

Looking at other publishing trends, I am always interested in whether spinoffs work as well as the originals. There have been a number of revivals recently, with ‘rewrites’ of classics spurred on by publisher initiatives such as The Austen Project, in which authors like Joanna Trollope and Alistair McCall Smith were asked ‘retell’ in 21st century style Jane Austen’s original classics, including Sense and Sensibility (Trollope) and Emma (McCall Smith). The public response was lukewarm, judging by peer reviews posted on GoodReads and Amazon. While I am sure the books sold fairly well, I doubt they’ll still be in print in another 300 years – unlike the originals which show every intention of being around for as long as humans continue to enjoy stories.

Another spinoff appears to be doing better. PW has just released first week sales figures for the new Lisbeth Salander novel. Following author Stieg Larsson’s untimely death, books two and three in the trilogy were published posthumously. Now journalist David Lagercrantz has written a fourth book in the series. He says he took extensive notes on the first three books but didn’t read Larsson’s outline for his version of the fourth book.  Lagercrantz’s book The Girl in the Spider’s Web is the number one title in the US this week. Here are the first week sales figures for each of the four titles:

  1. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Stieg Larsson) 2008: 14.6k print units
  2. The Girl Who Played with Fire (Stieg Larsson) 2009: 43k print units
  3. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest (Stieg Larsson) 2010: 248k print units
  4. The Girl in the Spider’s Web (David Lagercrantz) 2015: 53k print units

So, The Girl in the Spider’s Web has sold in better than books 1 and 2 in the original series. Regardless of whether readers maintain the enthusiasm they displayed for the initial thrillers, I reckon both Lagercrantz and his publisher Knopf (Random House) are very happy with that start!

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