Have just been talking to my publicist. Lightning Rods has had very good reviews, many interviews were given, but sales are a few significant figures short of a zillion. Unsurprisingly, to my mind - I am always astounded that ANYBODY buys hardback books. I never do if I can avoid it. I pointed this out to Tom, who admitted that he too never bought books in hard cover. The problem is, I gather, that if a book is not published as a hardback it is hard to get it reviewed at all. So reviews come out and readers, for the most part, do what any rational person would do in the circumstances - they wait for the paperback.
This IS rational insofar as it enables the buyer to read the book at a lower price in convenient portable form. Having said that, the readers who have bought the book early on are doing more than buying a book: they are sending a message, via our friends at Nielsen Bookscan, to publishers who might think of publishing the author's next book. (The timing of this message is, obviously, not irrelevant to date of publication of author's next book. This is, in turn, not irrelevant to the sort of reader who does not want to read a book in PDF.)
Lightning Rods is not necessarily a safe bet as a Christmas gift (if your mother is like my mother, she will hate the book). Still, if you have a friend or friends who love the books your mother hates, this could be the perfect choice. If you are a cash-strapped undergraduate, you could club together with one or more cash-strapped friends, buy a copy, and laugh loudly in public places (while, obviously, reading the book) - preferably places frequented by people rich enough to buy a hardback copy for themselves.
Review in NY Times by Jennifer Szalai, here.
Review by Garth Risk Hallberg at the Millions, here.