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New novel is hard to keep on shelves

f02_jd_22dec_spiderALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — For Anne Hillerman’s debut novel “Spider Woman’s Daughter,” popularity breeds scarcity.

Several area bookstores reported that they’re trying hard to keep copies of Hillerman’s bestselling novel on hand. Demand is so high that they can’t predict how many copies will be around in 24 hours.

“We are basically selling it as quickly as we get it in stock,” said Amanda Sutton, marketing director of Bookworks in the North Valley.

The Barnes & Noble bookstore in Coronado Shopping Center recently had three copies of the novel on display, but assistant store manager Bruce Trombley said more are expected.

The store sold more copies of the mystery on the day of Hillerman’s book event at the store than it did the previous week, Trombley noted.

“Sales have been steady since the book came out,” he noted.

The book was released Oct. 1.

And the mystery novel has been a hot item at Treasure House Books & Gifts in Old Town. Store owner John Hoffsis reported selling more than 150 copies of the title.

Within weeks of its release, the novel made the New York Times and the Publishers Weekly best-seller lists. The book was ranked No. 10 on the Times’ hardcover fiction list and No. 12 on Publishers Weekly.

Rachel Elinsky, the book’s publicist at HarperCollins, said in an email that recent publishing house figures show “Spider Woman’s Daughter” has sold 65,000 copies nationally.

The book is subtitled a “Leaphorn & Chee Novel.” That’s a reference to retired police Lt. Joe Leaphorn and to Sgt. Jim Chee, well-loved characters in Tony Hillerman’s long-running, bestselling series set mostly on the Navajo Reservation. He is Anne Hillerman’s late father.

Anne Hillerman, a Santa Fe resident, said she’s been surprised to find that supply hasn’t been meeting demand at her book events.

At the Texas Book Festival in Austin, Hillerman said she gave a talk to a packed room.

HILLERMAN: Novel on best-seller lists

HILLERMAN: Novel on best-seller lists

“I signed about 60 books and there were people in line who were complaining about the festival being sold out (of my book). The festival said, ‘We ordered 60 and we sold them,'” she said.

Customers attending her book-signing at the Houston bookstore Clues Unlimited faced the same situation: The store ran out of copies.

And at her talk and book-signing in Fort Collins, Colo., 150 people showed up. “Luckily, we had a box of books in the car,” Hillerman said.

Elizabeth Anker, owner of Alamosa Books in Albuquerque, said in an email that Hillerman’s novel has been ranked in the top 10 on the Mountains and Plains Independent Booksellers Association’s best-seller list for weeks.

And “Spider Woman’s Daughter” regularly shows up on a list of “top demand” titles by a distributor supplying large volumes of books that bookstores and libraries order in the region, Anker said.

“I think all of this is confirmation in very real terms of her reason for taking up the Chee and Leaphorn characters – that people are not ready for them to go away,” she wrote in the email.

“Readers love those stories; many have spent the last 20 years with these characters. …

“We are very lucky that Anne not only is a wonderful writer and has a great sense of storytelling, but she can use her own voice and let her father’s shine through as well so that these characters and places remain ‘true’ to their nature. I can’t think of another case where this is true,” Anker said.

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