5996Re: [Fwd: question about the Lord of the Rings]
- May 20, 2002Despite the fact there is a translation issue concerned, the request
looks like a standard "how many copies have been sold" question to
me. I've been asked that question a number of times, myself.
The most commonly cited figure comes from the 1992 count, which put
THE LORD OF THE RINGS at 50 million copies. In 1998 or 1999 I came
across a news story which estimated sales had reached 80 million
copies (in 30 languages) and that Tolkien had sold more than 100
million books altogether.
Either HarperCollins or Houghton Mifflin was supposed to publish new
sales figures last year, but I never saw them. However, about the
time the movie came out in December, I started to see media citations
of more than 100 million copies sold for THE LORD OF THE RINGS.
I doubt there is really any accurate or reliable information
regarding the popularity of THE LORD OF THE RINGS. In my opinion,
you would have to gauge sales of tertiary books (including David
Day's books) and the Christopher Tolkien-edited books.
My eBook, PARMA ENDORION: ESSAYS ON MIDDLE-EARTH, 3rd edition, has
been downloaded more than 50,000 times since January 5. We may break
60,000 downloads by the end of this month (but the download rate is
diminishing, so I'm not sure). I'm projecting a total download
volume of about 75-80,000 copies for this year.
That eBook has been promoted mostly through my own Web site, although
the 2nd edition Parma Endorion Web site was favorably mentioned by
Yahoo! Internet Life's online poll (and that undoubtedly, coupled
with my TV GUIDE interview, lies behind much of the eBook's
I think that, if an eBook of collected essays can generate that many
downloads, the published books even by people like David Day must
have sold hundreds of thousands of copies through the years. The
collected reference work/commentary work sales must have gone well
beyond the 5 million mark.
But that's just a guestimate. It would be nice to know if there is
any way to find out. It does seem like, however, that about all you
have to do to move a book is slap Tolkien's name or Middle-earth on
If nothing else, it would give me something new to tell the media if
they come calling again next Fall.
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