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Could Starbucks Trump B&N as Publishing Power Brokers?

So posits Crown editor & thriller writer Jason Pinter after comparing and contrasting the opening one-week sales of Chris Bohjalian‘s THE DOUBLE BIND – picked as Barnes & Noble‘s second store-wide pick – and Starbucks‘ sophomore choice, Ishmael Beah‘s A LONG WAY GONE. According to the March 4 edition of the New York Times bestseller list, Bohjalian’s THE DOUBLE BIND will debut at #3 on the hardcover fiction list, while Beah’s A LONG WAY GONE will come in at #2 on the hardcover non-fiction list, which is impressive enough.

Go a little deeper into the first-week Bookscan numbers (which account for anywhere from 50-70% of total sales) and things get really interesting. That’s because Bohjalian sold over 17,000 copies in his first week, while Beah’s book moved over 26,000 units – and of Beah’s total Bookscan-accounted sales, over 19,000 were from “other” stores. “I can only assume this means Starbucks,” said Pinter. “In fact, if this is correct, Beah sold more copies at Starbucks alone than Bohjalian sold in total.”

But before we anoint Starbucks as the true heir apparent to Oprah, Pinter cautions that “there’s a major difference between offering one book for sale and offering thousands.” (Ron would also point to Beah’s moving appearance on The Daily Show last week as another potential prime mover for sales, as Jon Stewart put the comedy on hold for five minutes and confessed the memoir “made my heart hurt.”) “At the same time,” Pinter concludes, “it’s very curious to see that Beah seems to be outpacing an author with a bestselling Oprah pedigree, primarily due to the efforts of one store. And that store being considerably more famous for their double venti half calf mocha lattechinos than their success pushing literature.”

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