Slate‘s Laura Putre writes of the relatively enviable plight of the publishers of the new annotated autobiography of author Laura Ingalls Wilder: they didn’t print nearly enough copies.
In Laura Ingalls Wilder’s On the Banks of Plum Creek, Pa heads to town promising to return by nightfall, but a terrible storm blows through, and he finds himself trapped in a snow bank for three days. To survive, he eats the candy he brought for the girls’ Christmas stockings.
It’s a tale of pluck and miscalculation not lost on the publishers of Pioneer Girl, Wilder’s new annotated autobiography. Last November, they found themselves trapped in a snowbank of preorders for the book, which they won’t dig their way out of until March. They didn’t have to eat the Christmas peppermints, but they did leave Wilder fans crying in their homespun handkerchiefs when the book didn’t arrive in time for the holidays.
“Everyone keeps saying, ‘Where’s my copy, where’s my copy?’ ” says Sandra Hume, writer for the Beyond Little House blog and co-founder of the biennial “LauraPalooza,” a festival of all things Ingalls (which in previous years featured comedy of the Nellie Oleson actress from the TV series and a presentation by a meteorologist on the historical validity of Wilder’s The Long Winter).
Nancy Tystad Koupal, director of the South Dakota State Historical Society Press, the book’s publisher, said that Pioneer’s initial print run was 15,000. The books arrived at their warehouse the first week in November. By Thanksgiving, the press had not only exhausted that supply, but would take some 15,000 more orders. Coverage in a raft of publications, from The L.A. Times to the National Enquirer, sent demand through the sodhouse roof.* And that didn’t even count Amazon’s orders, which were around 30,000 and didn’t arrive until December. Those are the ones that won’t be filled until the third print run in March-ish.