Could You Handle an Overnight Best-seller? Epicenter Press’ Kent Sturgis talks about how his small press tackled the instant, overwhelming demand for the only Sarah Palin biography.
In a couple of days, we did 40,000—30,000 and then 10,000—digitally through Lightning Source. They were preparing them by Friday evening, and they were printing them all over the weekend. They shipped 34,000 on Tuesday. The orders continued to come in during the week. We [then] did … another … 6,000 and [then] 5,000. Yesterday, we just ordered our first offset supply. When those copies come in, we’ll have a total of 86,000 [in the first week].
Extra: Has Epicenter Press ever encountered anything like this before?
Sturgis: No. There was never anything like it—nothing remotely similar. We did have a best-seller 12 years ago. This was a publisher’s dream to have an overnight instant best-seller. …
… We had luck that we had the only biography of Gov. Sarah Palin in print when she was announced. It was partly luck and fortunate decisions that we were associated with Graphic Arts Center, having an established relationship with IPS and Lightning Source. All the Ingram companies pulled together for us. Those Ingram people are like a publishing S.W.A.T. team. They set up conference calls to get those books printed quickly. It went fairly smooth. …
Extra: What other hurdles did this sudden demand present to you and your staff?
Sturgis: There’s been several issues. … We’re a really small operation. … We only have two phone lines and a fax line. I think that … when McCain made his announcement, hundreds of reporters looked [on] Google, [and] the only thing they could find was this one book. A thousand reporters were calling us all at once to find the author. For a number of hours—for most of that Friday—we could hardly use the telephone. We had to use our cell phones. With a good recommendation, we got a publicist onboard—Andrea Burnett, who is in Berkeley, Calif. She used to do public relations for Chronicle Books. We funneled the media calls to the author through her, and we worked to exploit it to get our name out. The other (issue) was, we have a lot of other projects that we didn’t do a stick of work on in the past week.