Here's the full PW list from 2011, which starts off by saying "For both fiction and nonfiction hardcover titles, name-brand recognition is the key to bestseller success." Which means that if a powerhouse bestselling author like Stephen King decided to write historical fiction, his novel would be on the list. (And it is.)
Books with hardcover domestic print sales over 100K were included in PW's list; publishers were asked to take returns into account, but some may not have, especially with end-of-year releases. A separate ebook bestseller list is available (for PW subscribers only).
Among the top 15, we find these:
#2 - Stephen King, 11/22/63 (919,500+ copies)
#11 - Jean Auel, The Land of Painted Caves (447,600+ copies)
What I wrote in 2010: "The rest of the top 15 is dominated by Stieg Larsson, a predictable crop of thrillers (Grisham, Patricia Cornwell, James Patterson and his coauthors), plus Nicholas Sparks, a couple of mysteries, and Franzen's Freedom." Subtract Freedom and add George R.R. Martin, and you'll have a nice description of 2011.
Other historical novels with over 100K copies sold are below, in descending order of sales. I'm using a broad definition of "historical novel," to include historical mysteries, literary fiction set in the past, fantasy set in a real historical era, etc.
Paula McLain, The Paris Wife (at position 27, or 301K copies)
Erin Morgenstern, The Night Circus
P.D. James, Death Comes to Pemberley (Not bad for a December release - I wonder how many people got this as a Christmas gift?)
Lisa See, Dreams of Joy
Clive Cussler and Justin Scott, The Race
Charles Frazier, Nightwoods
Diana Gabaldon, The Scottish Prisoner
Alice Hoffman, The Dovekeepers
Jeffrey Archer, Only Time Will Tell
Philippa Gregory, The Lady of the Rivers
Geraldine Brooks, Caleb's Crossing
My library's online PW login has stopped working for some reason, so I haven't seen the mass market or e-book lists and will have to wait until the issue reaches my desk. As before, it seems the best way to be a bestseller is to have been a bestseller, which gets circular quickly, but there are two debut novelists in there.
Amazingly, I've read some of these - the Gabaldon, Hoffman, Gregory, and Brooks.