There's been a slew of high-quality non-fiction e-book singles in recent weeks yet most have failed to crack the Kindle Singles top-ten best-seller list, according to the Thin Reads analysis of the chart for the week of June 16, 2013. It's a far cry from the fiction list where David Mamet's new short story The Handle and the Hold made the list as #8 the first week it was available.
So let's take a look at some recent blue chip nonfiction e-book singles and see where they landed for the week.
Upstream Doctors, by Rishi Manchanda. TED Conferences published this serious work of nonfiction. Manchanda argues that without addressing social problems that trigger a patient's medical issues, the patient's medical issues can never be fully solved. This is clearly an important subject but it's not exactly best-seller material. The surprise is that it's doing so well, especially with a convoluted title. Rank this week: 24
Three Days in Gettysburg: An Intimate Tale of Lost Love and Divided Hearts at the Battle That Defined America, by Brian Mockenhaupt. This sweeping narrative tale, produced by the smart folks at Byliner, looks at the epic battle through the lives of three people. That narrative device is very clever. Another plus for Gettysburg: it's timed for the 150th anniversary of the battle written by a serious journalist who's also a military veteran. But in the initial battle for the attention of readers, Gettysburg appears to have faltered coming out of the gate. Rank this week: 25
Out for Blood, by Margot Adler. Why do vampires fascinate us? That's what Adler, an NPR correspondent, set out to explore in this extended essay written after she read more than 260 vampire novels. The brilliance in Out for Blood may be in the timing. The sixth season of HBO's hit drama True Blood debuted June 16, just six days after the release of Out for Blood. But so far, Out for Blood has not been caught in the marketing updraft or social media chatter of the HBO series. Let's see what happens in the coming weeks. Rank this week: 29.
All the Young Dudes: Why Glam Rock Matters, by Mark Dery. The cultural critic and long-form magazine writer turned his attention to glamorous world of glam rock (Mott the Hoople, David Bowie, et al) and churned out an 8,000-word essay on the importance of the form. Readers so far have yawned. Rank this week: 38.
So what is selling in nonfiction? For the third week in a row Mayflower: The Voyage from Hell and Trial by Fury (about the Amanda Knox case) rank as #1 and #2. And New York Times reporter Barry's Meier's A World of Hurt, about the over-prescription of the drug OxyContin, ranks #3 after debuting at #3 two weeks ago. (Read Q&A with Meier.)