What books were Amazon customers reading this year? It should come as no surprise that they favored the same books as general readers, which means that our 2012 Top 10 Customer Favorites list comes in multiple shades of grey. You'll find a couple of longtime best-selling authors on the list--John Grisham and David Baldacci--but unlike last year, which featured Walter Isaacson's Steve Jobs at #1, as well as books by Tina Fey, Erik Larsen, George RR Martin, Christopher Paolini, and again, John Grisham, there are a lot of lesser-known names on this year's list.
At least they were lesser-known until 2012. William Landay anyone? He wrote a compelling fictional court drama titled Defending Jacob that came out early in the year and took readers (and the Amazon editors) by storm. Then there's Kevin Maurer's No Easy Day, a riveting first-hand account of the author's drive to become a Navy Seal and the experiences he had once he became one, including the successful raid on Osama bin Laden's compound. And of course Gillian Flynn exploded onto the scene with her excellent and popular Gone Girl.
But the real story of 2012 was the rise of romance. And not just any sort of romance--five of the top 10 titles published in 2012 feature a love affair with a young, hot, brilliant billionaire. Call it the Year of the One Percent. Or as our own Sara Nelson put it, "the year of the billionaire bad boy in romance."
Since we only counted print books and ebooks that were originally published in 2012, Fifty Shades Freed, the third book in E.L. James's Fifty Shades Trilogy, lands at the top of our 2012 Customer Favorites list (the first two books in the series came out in 2011). The boxed set of James's trilogy, which was published this year, also earned a spot. Author Sylvia Day takes two slots of her own with Bared to You and Reflected in You, her best-selling romance novels featuring bad boy billionaire Gideon Cross. And Jennifer Probst's The Marriage Bargain, featuring billionaire Nicholas Ryan, introduces yet a third sexy billionaire to the mix.
As I was thinking about this list and comparing it to last year's, it occurred to me that Steve Jobs was a billionaire, too. Maybe he doesn't fall into the same category as Nicholas Ryan, Gideon Cross, and Christian Grey, but it's safe to say that readers have a fascination with the super-rich. This year's crop of best-selling books takes that fascination to a new level.
Perhaps it's not so lonely at the top.