Writing for the New Republic, Marc Tracy says that “Until this month, Harvard University Press had achieved two notable sales successes in the past 15 years. Stephen Jay Gould’s Dinosaurs in a Haystack: Reflections on Natural History and Charles Taylor’s A Secular Age both sold around 60,000 copies in each one’s first year, making them blockbusters by HUP’s scholarly standards.
“In contrast, Thomas Pilketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century has already sold 80,000 copies in less than two months, and is currently sold out. According to Susan Donnelly, sales and marketing director at the 101 year old house, that figures does not include an estimated 12,000 e-books sold (which Amazon is wisely peddling for a stratospheric $21.99), nor the 80,000 copies HYP is in the process of printing or the 35,000 it guesses it will print in the very near future. Do the math, and suddenly you are north of 200,000 books that the house expects to sell in a few months.”