E-Books Outsell Print For Majority Of Titles On USA Today Bestseller List

USA Today is reporting a post-holiday e-book “surge,” with 32 of the top 50 titles on its most recent list selling more copies in digital format than in print, including all top ten titles. I broke down the lists to see which books sold more copies in each format.

The list, for January 2 through 8, is here and the paper attributes the surge to e-readers received as gifts. For the previous week, from December 26 through January 1, e-books were the most popular format for 42 of the top 50 titles. Both figures are “higher than any other week last year,” USA Today says.

Unlike the New York Times (NYSE: NYT) and Wall Street Journal (NSDQ: NWS), which break out e-book sales (as well as children’s books, nonfiction, etc.) into separate bestseller lists, USA Today publishes a single list that includes all categories and lumps hardcover, paperback and e-books together. If a title is available in all three of those formats, its sales in all three are combined to calculate its rank. The entry for each title mentions which format it sold the most copies in that week. The WSJ and NYT do not provide that information.

I went through the list–here are the ones that sold more copies as e-books than as print books, along with their rank on the list:

1. The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins (Scholastic) (children’s/young adult)
2. Catching Fire, Suzanne Collins (Scholastic) (children’s/YA)
3. Mockingjay, Suzanne Collins (Scholastic) (children’s/YA)
4. Private: #1 Suspect, James Patterson (Hachette) (fiction)
5. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Stieg Larsson (Random House) (fiction)
6. The Help, Kathryn Stockett (Penguin) (fiction)
7. The Girl Who Played with Fire, Stieg Larsson (Random House) (fiction)
8. Heaven Is for Real, Todd Burpo (Thomas Nelson) (religious)
9. Love in a Nutshell, Janet Evanovich (Macmillan) (fiction)
10. American Sniper, Chris Kyle (HarperCollins) (NF/biography)
11. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Jonathan Safran Foer (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) (fiction)
12. 11/22/63, Stephen King (Simon & Schuster) (fiction)
14. The Litigators, John Grisham (Random House) (fiction)
16. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, Stieg Larsson (Random House) (fiction)
17. Kill Alex Cross, James Patterson (Hachette) (fiction)
18. Witch & Wizard, James Patterson (Hachette) (children’s)
19. War Horse, Michael Morpurgo (Scholastic) (children’s)
23. The Hunger Games Trilogy, Suzanne Collins (Scholastic) (children’s/YA)
24. The Best of Me, Nicholas Sparks (Hachette) (fiction)
25. Water for Elephants, Sara Gruen (Algonquin) (fiction)
26. Explosive Eighteen, Janet Evanovich (Random House) (mystery)
28. Red Mist, Patricia Cornwell (Penguin) (fiction/thriller)
29. Locked On, Tom Clancy (Penguin) (fiction/thriller)
32. The Next Always, Nora Roberts (Penguin) (romance)
34. The Drop, Michael Connelly (Hachette) (fiction/thriller)
35. Unfinished Business, Nora Roberts (Harlequin) (romance)
36. Whispers in the Dark, Maya Banks (Penguin) (romance)
39. Unbroken, Laura Hillenbrand (Random House) (NF/history)
43. Witch & Wizard: The Fire, James Patterson (Hachette) (children’s)
44. The Winter Sea, Susanna Kearsley (Sourcebooks) (fiction)
45. A Game of Thrones, George R.R. Martin (Random House) (SF/fantasy)
47. The Mill River Recluse, Darcie Chan (self-published, Darcie Chan) (fiction)
48. One for the Money, Janet Evanovich (Simon & Schuster) (mystery)
49. Catherine the Great, Robert K. Massie (Random House) (NF/biography)
50. Golden Lies, Barbara Freethy (self-published, Barbara Freethy) (romance)

And here are the books that sold more copies as print books than e-books:

13. Steve Jobs, Walter Isaacson (Simon & Schuster) (biography)
15. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever, Jeff Kinney (Abram’s) (children’s)
20. Killing Lincoln, Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard (Macmillan) (history)
21. Hidden Summit, Robyn Carr (Harlequin) (romance)
22. 77 Shadow Street, Dean Koontz (Random House) (fiction/horror)
27. Bossypants, Tina Fey (Hachette) (memoir/humor)
30. Inheritance, Christopher Paolini (Random House) (children’s/YA)
31. Spirit Bound, Christine Feehan (Penguin) (romance)
33. You…Again, Debbie Macomber (Harlequin) (romance)
37. Moonlight in the Morning, Jude Deveraux (Simon & Schuster) (romance)
38. Real Marriage, Mark and Grace Driscoll (Thomas Nelson) (religion)
40. Mr. and Miss Anonymous, Fern Michaels (Kensington) (romance)
41. Death Comes to Pemberley, P.D. James (Random House) (fiction)
42. The Son of Neptune, Rick Riordan (Disney-Hyperion) (children’s)
46. Taking People with You, David Novak (Penguin) (business)

I’m not going to try to draw big conclusions from this because we don’t know how many copies each book sold in each format; the differences might be small (some of these books were on the opposite list last week; i.e., a book that sold best in print this week might have sold best as an e-book last week). But I just wanted to call out a couple categories here — children’s and romance. There are five romance titles on the P>E list, compared to four romances on the E>P list. Romance is a genre that sells really well in digital, but this is a reminder that plenty of people are still buying romance in print too.

As for children’s, there are three titles on the P>E list, and seven on the E>P list (including the Hunger Games trilogy, which have major crossover appeal). War Horse is presumably doing well because of the movie. The remaining two kids’ books that sold better in digital than print are both from James Patterson’s Witch & Wizard series and I suspect a lot of adults are reading them too (especially judging by the reviews on Amazon). So the appearance of kids’ books on the E>P list doesn’t alone suggest that kids are reading more books on e-readers, because all of the titles there are ones that are likely also widely read by adults.