President’s ReportBestseller Status May Take a While

March 2005
by Kent Sturgis

« Back to Independent Articles

One of the benefits of writing a column here is that I get to stick my nose into everyone’s business. I always learn something. This month I looked into comeback books–titles that get legs long after their initial release. The research was satisfying. What’s not to like about success stories whose plots include elements of surprise, luck, and smart publishing rightfully rewarded?

When I asked PMA members to share their experiences, I defined comebacks as “titles that suddenly go ballistic, for whatever reason, creating a delayed or repeat bestseller.” Since bestseller is not definable only in terms of absolute numbers, sales levels varied widely in the reports I received.

TV Fuels the Takeoff

The most common story had to do with out-of-print titles given a new life, like the inspiration for this column–the phenomenon of One Man’s Wilderness by Sam Keith, published in 1973 by Alaska Northwest Books, now an imprint of Graphic Arts Center Publishing Co. in Portland, OR (which distributes our books). The book is about a city-dweller who fulfills his dream of living in the wilderness. After it went out of print in the 1980s, word-of-mouth demand persisted, and eventually it was reintroduced in a new edition in 1999–with modest expectations. Then, in the fall of 2003, a companion documentary, Alone in the Wilderness, aired on PBS stations across the country.

Ka-boom! By January 2004 the b…IBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).

Join Today!

« Back to Independent Articles

How to Get Involved!
Marketing Opportunities

From mailings to exhibits, see how IBPA's marketing programs help you grow your sales.

Educational Opportunities

Attend a seminar, ask an expert, and get more free advice with our educational programs.

Become a member

Access exclusive members-only benefits starting at just $10.