One of the comments on the post below asks, has anyone mentioned Hawking? So, should we mention him? Lots of copies sold, but are they good books? And are there reasons to prefer A Brief History of Time (killer title, poorly explained text), Briefer History (which I haven't read) or Universe in a Nutshell, which I recall reviewing unfavourably when it came out - and the wonders of the Guardian archive
will still tell you why.
There was another round up of comment
on the book from other folks a little later.
I reckon Hawking has been more of an inspiration to other writers - and publishers - to try and crack the market, rather than an example of how to do it.