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'No Easy Day' bumps 'Fifty Shades of Grey'

7:38 AM, Sep 12, 2012   |    comments
By Dutton/Penguin
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It took a controversial firsthand account of Osama bin Laden's death to knock E.L. James' erotic novel, Fifty Shades of Grey, from No. 1 on USA TODAY's Best-Selling Books list.

After 20 consecutive weeks at No. 1 - a record for the list, which began in 1993 -Grey has been bumped by No Easy Day, which will be making its debut on the list on Thursday. Day is co-written by Mark Owen, a pseudonym for a retired Navy SEAL in the raid on bin Laden's Pakistani hideout in May 2011.

Owen - identified as Matt Bissonnette- has been criticized by the Pentagon for failing to submit the book for review under a non-disclosure agreement. On Tuesday, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta suggested Bissonnette should be prosecuted.

Publisher Dutton says that the book, written with former Associated Press reporter Kevin Maurer, was vetted by a lawyer with experience in military secrets and that nothing classified is revealed. Bissonnette, hiding his identity, appeared on CBS' 60 Minutes for an hour-long interview Sunday.

The book, which contends bin Laden didn't put up a fight as described by the White House, wasn't announced until Aug. 29. After a burst of attention, Dutton moved the release date from Sept. 11 to Sept. 4 and hiked the first printing from 300,000 copies to 575,000.

Dutton's Christine Ball won't reveal the first week of sales but says the print run is up to 1 million copies, not counting e-books. (The hardcover is outselling the e-version on USA TODAY's list.)

James, whose sales have been slowly but steadily declining since May, drops to the second, third and fourth spots. (She swept the top three spots for 18 straight weeks.) Publisher Knopf says her trilogy, which includes Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed, has sold 30 million copies.

The "frenzy and rate of sales - in May we were selling 2½ books every second - wasn't sustainable," says Knopf's Paul Bogaards. But he expects that James' U.S. tour next week - including an hour Monday on Katie Couric's new syndicated talk show - will help find new readers.

James' 20-week streak at No. 1 broke the list's record of 17 weeks, set in April by The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins' teen novel. Collins, boosted by the blockbuster movie, broke the previous record of 16 weeks held since 1994 by In the Kitchen With Rosie by Rosie Daley, Oprah Winfrey's chef.

More competition for the top of the list is coming: Bob Woodward's The Price of Politics, about President Obama's economic battles, released Tuesday, and J.K. Rowling's first novel for grown-ups, The Casual Vacancy, out Sept. 27.

USA Today

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