On Sept. 12, Barnes & Noble announced that, in the US, Fear by Bob Woodward had the "fastest sales for an adult title since Harper Lee's Go Set a Watchman was released in July 2015." Simon & Schuster, Bob Woodward's publisher, announced that the title sold 750,000 copies in the US on the first day it went on sale, which included pre-orders of print copies, ebooks, and audiobooks. This is not unlike another book that sold well in the US and made the news recently: Fire and Fury by Michael Wolff.
When we saw the staggering first week of sales, we decided to do some digging to see which titles have sold the most units during their first week on sale in the Canadian English-language print market. We wanted to see if Fear would be on the list.
Our search only includes books that have a publication date after Jan. 1, 2006, when BNC SalesData began tracking sales. SalesData tracks sales in the Canadian, English-language trade market for print books only; sales for formats like ebooks and digital audiobooks are not included. Additionally, we broke out Juvenile and Young Adult (YA) titles into its own list, which you can find below.
While we can't divulge exact unit sales for each book, we can share which books had the highest number of sales in their first week, in order by rank. Do you remember all the big sellers that entered the market with a bang over the past 12 years? Ready or not, let's take a look.
Top 10 adult books by first-week sales
Inferno by Dan Brown (Knopf Doubleday, 9780385537858, published May 14, 2013)
The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown (Knopf Doubleday, 9780385504225, published Sept. 15, 2009)
Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson (Simon & Schuster, 9781451648539, published Oct. 24, 2011)
Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee (HarperCollins, 9780062409850, published July 14, 2015)
Grey by E.L. James (Knopf Doubleday, 9781101946343, published June 18, 2015)
Fear by Bob Woodward (Simon & Schuster, 9781501175510, published Sept. 11, 2018)
The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling (Little Brown & Company, 9780316228534, published Sept. 27, 2012)
The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown (Knopf Doubleday 9781400079179, published March 28, 2006)
Entwined with You by Sylvia Day (Penguin, 9780425263921, published June 4, 2013)
Origin by Dan Brown (Knopf Doubleday, 9780385514231, published Oct. 3, 2017)
For the 10 adult titles with the highest number of sales in their first week, 80% are Fiction books. Four are by Dan Brown and make up four fifths of the Robert Langdon series. And, yes, Fear made the list at number six.
Top 10 Juvenile and YA books by first-week sales
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling (Raincoast Books, 9781551929767, published July 21, 2007)
Breaking Dawn by Stephanie Meyers (Little Brown & Company, 9780316067928, published Feb. 8, 2008)
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: Parts One and Two by J.K. Rowling (Scholastic, 9781338099133, published July 31, 2016)
Inheritance by Christopher Paolini (Random House Children's Books, 9780375856112, published Nov. 8, 2011)
The Third Wheel by Jeff Kinney (Abrams, 9781419705847, published Nov. 13, 2012)
The Ugly Truth by Jeff Kinney (Abrams, 9780810984912, published Nov. 9, 2010)
Allegiant by Veronica Roth (HarperCollins, 9780062024060, published Oct. 22, 2013)
Cabin Fever by Jeff Kinney (Abrams, 9781419702235, published Nov. 15, 2011)
The House of Hades by Rick Riordan (Hyperion Books for Children, 9781423146728, published Oct. 8, 2013)
Hard Luck by Jeff Kinney (Abrams, 9781419711329, published Nov. 5, 2013)
For the 10 Juvenile and YA titles with the highest number of sales in their first week, all are Fiction, four titles are humorous stories by Jeff Kinney, and interestingly, all 10 are part of a series.
J.K. Rowling is the only author who made both the adult and Juvenile lists.