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'Duck Dynasty' family pens bestsellers

From left, Si Robertson, Willie Robertson and Phil

From left, Si Robertson, Willie Robertson and Phil Robertson from A&E Television Network's "Duck Dynasty" television show speak at the National Cable and Telecommunications Association (NCTA) Cable Show in Washington, D.C. (June 10, 2013) Photo Credit: Bloomberg

The Robertson family, of TV's "Duck Dynasty" fame, has America's bestseller lists in their sights.

"Happy, Happy, Happy" by Phil Robertson, the family's patriarch, has spent 12 weeks on The New York Times' nonfiction bestseller list (peaking at No. 1), and "Duck Commanders" by husband and wife Willie and Korie Robertson has been on the list for 17 weeks.

So why have America's readers taken to this Louisiana family -- returning to A&E Wednesday -- more than any other reality stars?

Jonathan Merkh, vice president and publisher of Howard Books, points to several factors, including the family's tight-knit nature, general wholesomeness and appeal to evangelical readers.

"These guys are not dysfunctional," Merkh said. "They all pick on each other, but at the end of the day, they all get along, and I think it has met a desire in the marketplace that has just been void. They zigged while everyone else was zagging."

At the core, though, is humor -- and even more than that, the fact that the Robertsons often seem to be in on the joke.

"They're actually funny and thoughtful and witty," Merkh says. "They're more like Bill Cosby than they are the Swamp People. As a result, they appeal to a more educated crowd."

Merkh added that around the time the first season of "Duck Dynasty" was airing, he was approached by one of his editors, Phyllis Boultinghouse, who told him that he should check out the show and that Phil Robertson had been her Sunday school teacher for 25 years. Boultinghouse wasn't Howard's only tie to the Robertsons.

Korie Robertson's father, John Howard, was the founder of Howard Books before selling to Simon & Schuster. Now, the imprint is being used to tell the story of Howard's daughter and the family she married into.

"There was a family connection and a trust factor there that gave us an inside track," Merkh said.

"Happy, Happy, Happy" and "Duck Commanders" could soon be joined on bestseller lists by other tales from the Robertson family.

"Si-Cology 1," a memoir from the family's kooky uncle, Si Robertson, will be released on Sept. 3. On Nov. 5 comes "Miss Kay's Duck Commander Kitchen," a cookbook from matriarch Kay Robertson.

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