Publishing Numbers

Michael Orthofer passes along the news that Capital in the 21st Century by Thomas Piketty is now Harvard University Press’s best-selling title ever, in terms of first-year sales (kinda amazing, since it’s not even been in release for two months), with some 80,000 copies.

That all is great, but now turn to the Pulitzers. The fiction winner, The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt saw its sales double thanks to the prize:

According to Nielsen BookScan, the book sold 15,079 copies last week, compared to 7,095 the week before the Pulitzer win. . . . Publisher Little, Brown reported that total Goldfinch sales — print and digital combined — are nearing 1.5 million and that it has gone back to press for another 150,000 copies.

The poetry winner, 3 Sections by Vijay Seshadr, also got a boost, and here we see the yawning chasm between fiction and poetry:

3 Sections by Vijay Seshadri, the 2014 poetry winner, went from 11 copies to 81 copies (353 copies sold to date).

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To be fair, Donna Tartt is a giant in American literature.


The Surrender is Veronica Scott Esposito’s “collection of facts” concerning how she embraced her true gender.


Two long essays of 10,000 words each on sex in—and out of—literature . . .

The first essay dives in to Nicholson Baker’s “sex trilogy,” explaining just what Baker is up to here and why these books ultimately fail to be as sexy as Baker might wish.

From there the book moves on to the second essay, which explains just why Spaniard Javier Marías does right what Baker does wrong . . .


5 essays. 2 interviews.

All in all, over 25,000 words of Latin American literary goodness.

3 never-before-published essays, including “The Digression”—a 4,000-word piece on the most important digression in César Aira’s career.

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