When you’re in the book business, you soon get used to the fact that many of the phone calls and requests you get each day are for the same authors. Customers are sometimes surprised to hear that the author they’re searching for is also sought after by many other readers, but it’s a fact: at any given moment, the majority of requests we get in a typical day will be for a handful of authors.
While this list can change from month to month – or even week to week, if a new movie is announced or an author passes away (because yes, that causes their books to sell like crazy) – here are the current Top Five:
- FRANK HERBERT – Or, more specifically, Dune. Since the new film version was announced – especially since the trailer was released – it’s been impossible to keep Herbert’s classic first Dune book in stock (and it’s spilled over to his other books as well). Although we don’t normally buy new books, we’re making an exception here because we’ve been so inundated with requests (we’re stocking it in a $30 hardback, a $40 “Deluxe” hardback, and an $18 oversized paperback, although those are selling so fast we’re often out!). We also have a collectible edition: an 8th printing from 1965.
2. TONI MORRISON – Toni Morrison’s books were already hard to keep in stock given how many high school reading lists she’s (thankfully) on, but the increased interest in Black authors this year has exploded her popularity. We still have two nice Morrison collectibles: a rare Advance Reading Copy of Tar Baby; and a signed, leatherbound edition of Jazz.
3. CHARLES BUKOWSKI – “L.A.’s Street Poet Laureate”, as he was sometimes called, would probably be the one permanant resident on this list, because he’s been one of our most requested authors since Iliad’s Day One. We get a lot of people who are interested in reading Bukowski for the first time and ask for recommendations: we suggest Post Office or Ham on Rye for a novel, The Most Beautiful Woman in Town for short stories, or Love is a Dog From Hell for poetry. Bukowski is another author we buy new because we don’t get enough used copies in, so we’ll usually have something in stock when you get that itch for some Bukowski. We also have two interesting Bukowski titles in our Rare Book collection: Crucifix in a Deathhand and Bukowski: 24 Photographs 1977-1987
4. HARUKI MURAKAMI – Every bookseller we know groans in sympathy when we talk about how hard it is to keep Murakami in stock. He’s been popular in our store for about two years now, and that popularity shows no signs of slowing down; in fact, if anything he’s become even more sought after since the pandemic set in. His books are in and out a lot here, though, so if you’re looking for Murakami and we don’t have anything, check back again soon and you may get lucky. We do have two scarce Murakami titles: a first edition of The Elephant Vanishes, and a second printing of Tony Takitani.
5. OCTAVIA BUTLER – Butler is the only author on this list whose books are so popular at the Iliad that we don’t even have any collectible editions in stock (she’s also one of two authors on this list featured in our mural – the other is Charles Bukowski). This coming January, the Library of America is publishing a Butler volume that will include Kindred, Fledgling, and selected short stories; you can bet we’ll be carrying that here at the Iliad.