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Books Sales And The Pulitzer Prize List (Even If Not Actually On It)

I tell ya, as long as they spell your name right and the title of the book, there is no such thing a bad publicity. Sadly, enough attention was not paid to the fact that I did not even get nominated for the Pulitzer. That's me: D.A.L.E  E.S.T.E.Y

big prize

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The Pulitzer Effect: How Much Did 2012’s Winners Jump? 
By Gabe Habash


How much does a Pulitzer help a book’s sales? It’s a question we answered last month looking at the past five fiction winners, using sales numbers from Nielsen BookScan, which tracks about 75% of print sales. Now five full weeks removed from the 2012 Pulitzers, we’re taking a look to see what sales spike—if any—this year’s winners saw following their victory. The results are in, and they’re mixed.

The biggest Pulitzer story this year was the board’s decision not to award a fiction winner for the first time since 1977. The three finalists, however, all saw spikes following the awards, even if they didn’t actually win. The Pale King by David Foster Wallace, released in paperback just before the April 16 Pulitzer announcement, saw its weekly sales double from 613 copies to 1,261 copies, according to BookScan. Weekly sales for Denis Johnson’s Train Dreams jumped from 711 to 1,334 following the announcement. The real fiction winner, though, is third finalistSwamplandia! by Karen Russell, which jumped from 933 copies sold to 2,382 copies, and then to 2,413 copies the next week, according to BookScan. All three fiction finalists are still holding steady sales five weeks after the announcement, all posting higher weekly numbers, respectively, than before they were revealed as finalists. The main difference is that the weekly sales for past fiction winners were much higher (5,000 copies and higher per week) than for any 2012 fiction finalist (between 1,000 and 2,000 copies). The takeaway: while none of the three fiction finalists saw as dramatic of a sales spike as any of the Pulitzer fiction winners we profiled in last month’s article, the three spikes, taken together, amount to a respectable increase.