Readers of the weekend edition of the Wall Street Journal learned that demand for The Last Lecture has outstripped supply, in what Jeffrey Trachtenberg calls “a potentially costly miscalculation” on the part of Hyperion, the book’s publisher. “Executives knew the book was going to be a big hit, but they didn’t want to print too many more copies than they had immediate orders for,” Trachtenberg reports, which is why only (only!) 550,000 copies of the book, co-written by dying professor Randy Pausch and WSJ reporter Jeffrey Zaslow, were in circulation at pub date. “What Hyperion hadn’t counted on,” he goes on to explain, “was viewer response to a one-hour special about Dr. Pausch that Diane Sawyer hosted on Walt Disney’s ABC on April 9.” Now the publisher is working at a breakneck pace to get the first of another 1.5 million copies in stores by the end of this week.
So if you saw Tuesday’s GalleyCat item about the book’s unexpected sell-out, and was wondering what the story was behind that, now you know.