There’s nothing like publisher confidence

I was tooling around in some antique shops recently and, as I always do, I gravitated to the bookshelves. You may remember the treasure I discovered this way a little while back. I wrote about that here. I didn’t find anything so exciting this time, but I did pick up this book.

The thing that entertained me about this was the complete lack of faith the publisher appeared to have in poor old Dr Cronin. You can see from this page that Dr Cronin is not a new author:

So The Citadel here is his fifth book. He must have some track record of sales. Even so, you can understand a slightly cautious approach in the initial print run. Maybe do a small run, see how it goes, follow it up with a second, bigger print run if it’s successful.

This, however, smacks of a complete lack of confidence on the part of Dr Cronin to sell his books:

Five print runs in July alone! Not only that, with this book flying off the shelves, they still didn’t take a chance on a big print run. Five more print runs the following month. Ten editions in two months? This is either a book so wildly successful that the publisher simply couldn’t keep up, or the publisher was seriously negligent. There were further editions in October and November that year (1937) and another one in January 1938. Which is the one I found. I wonder how many more there have been since.

I was tempted to buy the book and see what it was all about, but I didn’t. I’m inclined to go back and get it, though, because it’s stuck in my mind. I wonder if it is actually brilliant. Anyone have any idea? Or anyone have any insights into the mulitple monthly impressions? Am I completely misinterpreting what’s happened here? Leave comments if you know.

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2 thoughts on “There’s nothing like publisher confidence

  1. Evidently this book was a big deal! According to this Wikipedia article, it was a big seller and was even influential in establishment of the UK’s national health service.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AJ_Cronin
    So I wonder if perhaps it was indeed selling out so fast that the publisher had trouble keeping up with it. But still it seems to odd to have so many printings in such a short span.

  2. Ha! Thanks Chris, that’s really interesting. I’m definitely going back to get that book now. And I plan to look out for the others too, especially The Keys Of The Kingdom.

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