Booktopia’s Top Twenty Fiction Bestsellers for 2011

by |December 22, 2011

What did Booktopia’s customers buy in 2011?

Here are the twenty highest selling fiction titles…

1. Inheritance by Christopher Paolini

Keeping in mind that the fourth and final instalment of Paolini’s Inheritance Cycle was only released in November, hitting the number one sales spot for the entire year is an amazing achievement. Pre-orders for Inheritance were astonishing, but sales after the release date dwarfed them. We have to thank Christopher Paolini for writing such compelling fiction and for taking the time to record a personalised Booktopia video message. And thanks go to Random House Australia for all of their support. But where would we be without Christopher’s loyal fans? They are the real champions here… clap, clap, clap. Gold star!

About: Not so very long ago, Eragon – Shadeslayer, Dragon Rider – was nothing more than a poor farm boy, and his dragon, Saphira, only a blue stone in the forest. Now, the fate of an entire civilization rests on their shoulders. Long months of training and battle have brought victories and hope, but they have also brought heartbreaking loss. More…


2. Song of Ice and Fire : TV Tie-In Edition – A Song of Fire and Ice Volumes 1-4 in five books (Vol 1. A Game of Thrones / Vol 2. A Clash of Kings / Vol 3. A Storm of Swords: Part 1. Steel and Snow / Part 2. Blood and Gold / Vol 4. A Feast for Crows) by George R R Martin

For fans of George R R Martin there were two huge events to look forward to at the beginning of 2011. One was the release of a brand new volume, A Dance with Dragons – Song of Ice and Fire Series : Book 5, and the other was the premiere of HBO’s epic in scale TV dramatisation of A Game of Thrones, which quickly became one of the most watched and talked about TV shows in 2011. Both of these events drew the attention of the world towards George R R Martin and brought him a legion of new fans. Sales of the boxed set of the first four books in the series sky-rocketed as friends bought friends box sets so as not to be alone in their new obsession.

About: George R.R. Martin′s A Song of Ice and Fire series has set the benchmark for contemporary epic fantasy. Labelled by Time magazine as one of the top 100 most influential people in the world, Martin has conjured a world as complex and vibrant as that of J.R.R. Tolkien′s, populated by a huge cast of fascinating, complex characters, and boasting a history that stretches back twelve thousand years. More…


3. Scarecrow and the Army of Thieves by Matthew Reilly

No one writes blockbuster fiction like Matthew Reilly. No one.  He is unique.  Others have tried to emulate him but each time they have a go at it,  he produces a book that is leaner and meaner than his last.  No wonder he is Australia’s best selling home grown author. Pre-orders for Scarecrow and the Army of Thieves were huge. His massive and diverse fan base was impatient. Very impatient. Since release day, back in October, sales have risen steadily as word of mouth encourages the sluggards.

About: At an abandoned Soviet base in the Arctic, the battle to save the world has begun…

It is a top-secret base known only as Dragon Island. A long-forgotten relic of the Cold War, it houses a weapon of terrible destructive force, a weapon that has just been re-activated… More…


4. The Land of Painted Caves by Jean M. Auel

This has to be one of most astonishing stories in publishing. Jean M. Auel began her Earth’s Children series way back in 1980. As nothing like it had been seen before, few expected Jean would find a large market for her novel, The Clan of the Cave Bear. It became a worldwide hit. The squeals which followed continued the phenomenon, selling millions of copies. In March 2011, thirty years after the series began, Jean brought her Earth’s Children series to an end with The Land of Painted Caves. The news spread quickly and enquiries came in, then pre-orders built and sales continue to this date. The paperback has just been published and sales have soared once again.

About: The Land of Painted Cavesconcludes the story of Ayla, her mate Jondalar, and their little daughter, Jonayla, taking readers on a journey of discovery and adventure as Ayla struggles to find a balance between her duties as a new mother and her training to become a Zelandoni – one of the Ninth Cave community’s spiritual leaders and healers. More…


5. Cabin Fever by Jeff Kinney

These books are so brilliant even the movies couldn’t slow down their sales. If you’ve ever wished your 8, 9, 10, 11 or 12 year old was a reader, if you ever wanted to see them read with enjoyment, to hear them giggle to themselves, to have them sneak a torch into to their beds to continue reading after lights out, then get hold of a copy of The Diary of a Wimpy Kid. There is a reason why they have sold millions of copies worldwide, and it ain’t the movies…

About: In Cabin Fever, the Heffley family is stuck indoors during a blizzard. But will they weather the storm?

‘A very tough New England winter inspired me to snow the Heffley family in for the holidays,’ said Jeff Kinney. ”Cabin fever’ refers to the claustrophobia Greg feels, as well as the broader theme of the book. . . that you’re trapped by the identity you create for yourself.’  More…


6. Go the F**k to Sleep by Adam Mansbach

Twitter introduced me to this book way back in May. I immediately recognised it’s potential (as anyone would) and listed it on the site. BOOM! Sales exploded. Everyone knew someone who desperately needed this book. A bit later the clever clogs at Text Publishing in Melbourne bought the Australian rights and produced a cheaper edition. They even went so far as to get Noni Hazelhurst to read from it on camera. The YouTube vid went viral. It was brilliant. (Watch it here) Xmas sales have given the book yet another push.  The perfect present for sleep starved parents – I think this book will be with us for a very long time.

About: This is a gift book for parents that will have them laughing even as they cry. “Go the Fuck to Sleep” is a bedtime book for parents who live in the real world, where a few snoozing kitties and cutesy rhymes don’t always send a toddler sailing blissfully off to dreamland. Profane, affectionate, and radically honest, California Book Award-winning author Adam Mansbach’s verses perfectly capture the familiar and unspoken tribulations of putting your little angel down for the night. More…


7. Dead Reckoning: A True Blood Novel by Charlaine Harris

This is one of those occasions where TV creates readers instead of distracting them or stealing them from books. HBO’s True Blood TV series is so addictive that devotees turn to the books to get more of a good thing. Sales of all of the 11 books in the series continue to grow, but this year, way out in front of the rest was the latest instalment, Dead Reckoning.

About: With her knack for being in trouble’s way, Sookie witnesses the firebombing of Merlotte’s, the bar where she works. Since Sam Merlotte is now known to be two-natured, suspicion falls immediately on the anti-shifters in the area. But Sookie suspects otherwise and she and Sam work together to uncover the culprit – and the twisted motive for the attack. More…


8. Ranger’s Apprentice: The Lost Stories by John Flanagan (Kitty Flanagan’s dad)

John Flanagan is a good sport. Back in September we arranged for John to come to sign some copies of The Lost Stories. Which he did. Trouble was, in between our asking him and the day of the signing our pre-orders trebled, which meant John was faced with a veritable mountain of books to sign. Undeterred, John pulled on his climbing gear and conquered the mountain, all the while chatting amiably about writing, books and his daughter. Brilliant. As it happens, John Flanagan is one of Booktopia’s all time bestselling authors. The entire Ranger’s Apprentice series continues to sell well, year after year.

About: Everyone knows the legends of the Rangers of Araluen. But no one has heard the whole story – until now. Has Halt told Will the truth about how Will became an orphan? Did Gilan track down Morgarath’s lieutenant after the battle of Three Step Pass? Is there to be a royal wedding – or will tragedy strike first? More…


9. The Help by Kathryn Stockett

I love the story behind this one. Inspiring. It took Stockett five years to write the book. When she tried to find representation she was rejected by 60 literary agents. 60! But she finally made it and as of August 2011 she has sold 5 million copies worldwide. Take that dumbhead, know-it-all literary agents! Even though it was a success in the US it was slow to move here in Oz until recently when the film was released. Since then sales have been ridiculously good. So good, in fact, that, as you can see, it is no. 9 on our list!

About:  Enter a vanished world: Jackson, Mississippi, 1962. Where black maids raise white children, but aren’t trusted not to steal the silver . . .

There’s Aibileen, raising her seventeenth white child and nursing the hurt caused by her own son’s tragic death; Minny, whose cooking is nearly as sassy as her tongue; and white Miss Skeeter, home from College, who wants to know why her beloved maid has disappeared. More…


10. The Golden Door by Emily Rodda

Emilly Rodda has the Midas touch. In 2011 the imagination which brought forth the bestselling Deltora Quest, Rowan of Rin, and Rondo series offered us The Golden Door, book one in a new series – The Three Doors. And the crowd went wild.

About: The walled city of Weld is under attack from ferocious flying creatures that raid in the night, bringing death and destruction. The Warden calls for Volunteers to find and destroy the Enemy sending the invaders, and the heroes of Weld answer the call one by one, never to return. Rye is officially too young to go, but his brothers are among the lost, and he must help them. What terrors await him beyond the wall?  More…


11. Past the Shallows by Favel Parrett

Earlier in the year Booktopia BUZZ editor in chief, Toni Whitmont, read a review copy of Past the Shallows and fell in love with it. She wrote : “I have read this remarkable novel, Past the Shallows, not once, but twice. I have wept through it not once, but twice. I have laughed in places, sighed a lot and disappeared so completely into the world that she conjures up that I had to wrench myself back into real time with an ache in my heart.” Toni’s review and her BUZZ Club’s support of the book played a large part in generating such great sales. Applause.

About: Harry and Miles live with their father, an abalone fisherman, on the south-east coast of Tasmania. With their mum dead, they are left to look after themselves. When Miles isn’t helping out on the boat they explore the coast and Miles and his older brother, Joe, love to surf. Harry is afraid of the water. More…


12. City of Fallen Angels : Mortal Instruments Series : Book 4 by Cassandra Clare

Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments  have been a constant presence here at Booktopia since the first volume was released. Thanks to the continuing support of Cassandra Clare and Walker Books Australia in 2011 we have been able to offer exclusive content to our customers. In the case of City of Fallen Angels it was the letter Jace left for Clary. In the case of Cassandra’s latest book Clockwork Prince : Infernal Devices : Book 2 it was a letter written by Will to Tessa. These two exclusive offers certainly helped accelerate already great sales and we thank Cassandra for choosing Booktopia.

About:  Simon Lewis is having some trouble adjusting to his new life as a vampire, especially now that he hardly sees his best friend Clary, who is caught up in training to be a Shadowhunter – and spending time with her new boyfriend, Jace. Simon decides he needs a break and heads out of the city – only to discover that sinister events are following him. More…


13. Passion by Lauren Kate

A great friend to Booktopia, Lauren Kate has answered our Ten Terrifying Questions, Six Sharp Questions and recently offered us her Five Fiction Favourites. Over the last few years sales of Lauren’s Fallen series have been good but, with the release of Passion earlier in the year, sales went from good to OMG!

About: Love Begins. Luce would die for Daniel. And she has. Over and over again. Throughout time, Luce and Daniel have found each other, only to be painfully torn apart: Luce dead, Daniel left broken and alone. But perhaps it doesn’t need to be that way. . .   More…


14. Red Dog by Louis De Bernieres

I was a little bit sceptical about this one. When I saw the preview of the film, I thought, Oh no! How cheesy! What have they done to that little treasure of a book? But as is often the case the preview failed to capture the true worth of the film. The film became one of the highest grossing Australian films. People just loved it. They loved it so much that sales of the book took off. So a gorgeous novella, forgotten by many, lives again. (Another example of how film can lead people back to books)

About: Red Dog is a West Australian, a lovable friendly red kelpie who found widespread fame as a result of his habit of travelling all over Western Australia, hitching rides over thousands of miles, settling in places for months at a time and adopting new families before heading off again to the next destination and another family – sometimes returning to say hello years later. More…


15. The Outcasts by John Flanagan

Famed for his compelling series Ranger’s Apprentice, John Flanagan, the only author to appear on this list twice,  surprised his fans with the launch of a brand new series, Brotherband. Sales of volume one, The Outcasts were more than encouraging, they were outstanding. If John had any doubts as to whether his fans would welcome a new series, he doesn’t any more…

About: In Skandia, there is only one way to become a warrior. Boys are chosen for teams called brotherbands and must endure three months of gruelling training in seamanship, weapons and battle tactics. It’s brotherband against brotherband, fighting it out in a series of challenges. There can be only one winner. More…


16. The Briny Cafe by Susan Duncan

This is another of Booktopia BUZZ editor-in-chief, Toni Whitmont’s BUZZ CLUB picks.  In Toni’s own words: “The Briny Café shines. It is the simplicity of the tale, the familiarity of the characters that makes it work so wonderfully. Susan avoids cliché while offering something that we all really want – to feel good about life, to feel good about other people, and to get some respite from the stuff of everyday madness”. Full review…

About: Brimming with warmth and wit, Susan Duncan’s first novel is a delicious tale of friendship and love, and the search for a place to call home…

Ettie Brookbank is the heart and soul of Cook’s Basin, a sleepy offshore community comprising a cluster of dazzling blue bays. But for all the idyllic surroundings, Ettie can’t help wondering where her dreams have disappeared to.  More…


17. The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas

The Slap has been a Booktopia Bestseller since its publication. But this year was different. The Slap was turned into a critically acclaimed TV show. Everyone was talking about it. Of course, those who had read the book were quick to let those who hadn’t that the book was better. Sales of the book sky-rocketed. I suppose now we have to call The Slap a Booktopia Megaseller…

About: At a suburban barbecue one afternoon, a man slaps an unruly boy. The boy is not his own. It’s a single act of violence, but the slap reverberates through the lives of everyone who witnesses it.  More…


18. Those in Peril by Wilbur Smith

In 2011 Wilbur Smith once again proved why he has been on the bestseller lists for a billion years. He can turn his hand to anything. This year he gave us Those in Peril a faced paced thriller reminiscent of some of his previous stand alone novels but with a thoroughly modern feel. Those in Peril is the perfect beach read and I expect sales to be good all the way through summer.

About: Hazel Bannock is the heir to the Bannock Oil Corp, one of the major oil producers with global reach. While cruising in the Indian Ocean, Hazel’s private yacht is hijacked by African pirates. Hazel is not on board at the time, but her nineteen year old daughter, Cayla, is kidnapped and held to ransom. The pirates demand a crippling twenty billion dollar ransom for her release. Complicated political and diplomatic considerations render the civilized major powers incapable of intervening.  More…


19. That Deadman Dance by Kim Scott

It gives me a bit of a thrill to see critically acclaimed literary fiction on the bestseller lists. A very deserving Winner of the Miles Franklin Award, That Deadman Dance is a most welcome addition to our Top Twenty Fiction Bestsellers for 2011.

About: Big-hearted, moving and richly rewarding, That Deadman Dance is set in the first decades of the 19th century in the area around what is now Albany, Western Australia. In playful, musical prose, the book explores the early contact between the Aboriginal Noongar people and the first European settlers.  More…


20. Viscount Breckenridge to the Rescue: A Cynster Novel by Stephanie Laurens

Did you know that Booktopia was built upon a foundation of Romance? We sell thousands of Romance titles every week. We always have. I suspect the only reason this list isn’t made up entirely of Romance novels is that Romance readers have too much choice, which means that their impact is spread and not concentrated on a few titles. Of course, superstars like Stephanie Laurens are the exceptions to this rule…

About: In Laurens’s sensational new Cynster historical romance, it’s Viscount Breckenridge to the Rescue when feisty Heather Cynster steps out of her safe, dull social circle in search of a dashing hero to wed…and ends up kidnapped, scandalized and whisked out of London, with her only hope for salvation—and love—resting with a notorious rogue lord. More…


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About the Contributor

While still in his twenties, John Purcell opened a second-hand bookshop in Mosman, Sydney, in which he sat for ten years reading, ranting and writing. Since then he has written, under a pseudonym, a series of very successful novels, interviewed hundreds of writers about their work, appeared at writers’ festivals, on TV (most bizarrely in comedian Luke McGregor’s documentary Luke Warm Sex) and has been featured in prominent newspapers and magazines. ​Now, as the Director of Books at, Australia’s largest online bookseller, he supports Australian writing in all its forms. He lives in Sydney with his wife, two children, three dogs, five cats, unnumbered gold fish and his overlarge book collection. His novel, The Girl on the Page, will be published by HarperCollins Australia in October, 2018.

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