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5996Re: [Fwd: question about the Lord of the Rings]

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  • michael_martinez2
    May 20, 2002
      Despite 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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