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Books: Hits And Misses In 2007

O.J. Simpson appears in court for a preliminary hearing at the Clark County Regional Justice Center 13 November, 2007 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Simpson is appearing in court for the third day for his preliminary hearing on charges which include burglary, robbery and assault following an attempted robbery at the Palace Station Hotel & Casino in September. AFP PHOTO/POOL/Andrew Gomberg (Photo credit should read ANDREW GOMBERG/AFP/Getty Images)
Andrew Gomberg/AFP/Getty Images
It was the "confession" that nobody wanted to read in 2007 at least until they had the chance to read it.

O.J. Simpson's "If I Did It," vilified when first announced a year ago, dropped by HarperCollins, then issued this fall by tiny Beaufort Books, sold more than 100,000 copies, according to Nielsen BookScan, which tracks about 70 percent of industry sales.

Simpson's book, supposedly so untouchable that Barnes & Noble Inc. initially declined to stock it in stores, had Nielsen numbers comparable to such high-profile releases as former CIA director George Tenet's "At the Center of the Storm" and Alice Sebold's "The Almost Moon," her first novel since the best seller "The Lovely Bones."

It outsold books by Jenna Bush (62,000), Lynne Cheney (9,000), National Book Award for fiction winner Denis Johnson (34,000), Man Booker Prize winner Anne Enright (34,000) and perennial best seller Jimmy Carter (16,000).


Photos: Book People
A look at some books that topped Simpson's in 2007, and some others that didn't:

HITS:

"A Thousand Splendid Suns," Khaled Hosseini. First-time sensations are supposed to flop, or at least come up short the second time. Not Hosseini, whose follow up to "The Kite Runner" was another million seller and received even better reviews.

"Eat, Pray, Love," Elizabeth Gilbert. A paperback phenomenon, Gilbert's million-selling breakup/travel memoir was so popular - especially with women - that spotting readers seemed as easy in 2007 as finding a Starbucks. A plug from Oprah Winfrey didn't hurt.

"Skinny B----," Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin. Oprah's not the only hitmaker. Modestly successful when first published, in 2005, this trendy diet book soared after Victoria "Posh Spice" Beckham was photographed holding a copy at a Hollywood boutique.

"The Dangerous Book for Boys," Conn and Hal Iggulden. Anyone who wasn't reading "Eat, Pray, Love" (or "Skinny B----") was reading this how-to guide that covers everything from paper airplanes to go-carts to skipping stones to skinning a rabbit.

MISSES:

The Hillary Clinton trio: Carl Bernstein's "A Woman in Charge," Jeff Gerth and Don Van Natta Jr.'s "Her Way" and Sally Bedell Smith's "For Love of Politics." When people want to learn about Hillary, they read Hillary. According to Nielsen BookScan, sales for these three highly publicized books totaled 88,000 (most were Bernstein's book) through early December, less than half the first-day take for Clinton's "Living History."

"Fair Game," Valerie Plame. The long-awaited memoir by the former CIA official whose outing by columnist Robert Novak became a political scandal and led to a long federal investigation. Published in October with an announced first printing of 400,000, "Fair Game" had BookScan sales of 42,000.

"The Higher Power of Lucky," Susan Patron. Winner of the Newbery medal for best children's book and briefly in the headlines for its use of the word "scrotum." Sales: 49,000.

"The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao," Junot Diaz. One of the year's best reviewed novels and a likely Pulitzer Prize contender. Sales: 27,000.

By Hillel Italie