USA Today's newest quarterly best-selling books list is out, and those abstinence-loving vampires from Stephenie Meyer's Twilight books took the first four spots. But what was the best-selling proper science fiction book, you ask? Well…
That honor goes to Meyer's surprisingly decent alien-invasion romance The Host (read our review here), which clocked in at fourteenth. Although that does depend on how you count Watchmen, which soared all the way to number nine on the strength of anticipation for Zack Snyder's big screen adaptation after being only the sixtieth best-selling book of 2008.
The list, which tracks the best-selling books for the first three months of 2009, says sales of Meyer's five novels accounted for 16% of all books sold. That sounds even more impressive when you realize Meyer was responsible for one out of every seven books sold in the last three months. I think here is where I'm supposed to say whatever gets young people reading is a good thing - but I'm not entirely sure I believe it.
This continues the trend from 2008, where the four Twilight books swept the top of the annual list. That's something not even the Harry Potter books were able to do, although Meyer has a long way to go before she matches J.K. Rowling; Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and its 44 million copies sold outstrips all the Twilight books combined. Even when you consider the 400 million Potter books include three more novels and a bunch of tie-ins, it still doesn't change the fact Rowling has Meyer beat by a factor of about five to one. (I'd also mention this decade's other historically massive best-seller, Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code, and its 57 million copies, but I'm trying to stay positive about this whole literacy thing.)
Looking over USA Today's 2008 list, the only other even vaguely science fictional titles beyond Meyer's books are Charlaine Harris's Sookie Stackhouse book Dead Until Dark, Eoin Colfer's Artemis Fowl: The Time Paradox, and Watchmen. Much as I love it, when Watchmen is the de facto standard bearer for best-selling science-fiction novels, it's safe to say that all of science fiction combined is no match for the Twilight juggernaut, and it's not even remotely close.
So what science fiction books are among the top-selling books of all time? There are really only two choices. As far as individual books are concerned, Frank Herbert's Dune is probably number one, with 12 million copies sold since its publication in 1965. As for science fiction series, that honor most likely goes to Isaac Asimov's original Foundation trilogy, which has sold a total of 20 million copies in its almost six decades in print. Well, at least there's some justice in the publishing world.
The Host fan art from Zuly89 on Fanpop.