They'd anticipated a print run of about 5,000 for Laura Ingalls Wilder's autobiography, South Dakota Historical Society Press director Nancy Tystad Koupal told the Sioux Falls Argus Leader.
But six months later, the scholarly book produced by a small regional press is readying another run – this one totaling an additional 50,000 copies.
The Argus Leader says that "Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography" – now in its fourth week on the New York Times Best Sellers list – will soon have 125,000 copies in print.
The surprise best seller tells the real life story of Wilder, who penned a series of autobiographical novels about her family's life on the prairie in the late 19th century. Sales have been so strong that some bookstores and online publishers have run out of copies and have had to turn book buyers away.
Published by the South Dakota Historical Society Press and edited by Pamela Smith Hill, the new book reprints the never-published original memoir Wilder wrote in the early 1930s.
Distributors, online book sellers and book stores will receive more books from a fourth and a fifth print run, totaling an additional 50,000 copies. A sixth print run likely will come in late summer or early fall in time for the holidays.
On March 30, industry bible Publishers Weekly detailed the surprising sales, noting that "it debuted at #7 with 8,316 units sold. This week, it’s #2 in Hardcover Nonfiction with 18,926 sold—and #8 overall."
Last month, the influential New York Review of Books published a story called "Laura's World." It detailed the abiding interest of readers in Wilder's prairie upbringing and added that affection is "the only way to make sense of the phenomenal popularity of the new $40 scholarly tome."
A television series based on the series of books had a long run in the 1970's, and now Hollywood is ready to take a crack at the material.
Last Friday, the New York Daily News reported A-list action stars are being considered as leads in a film that is now in the early development phase. Details about the casting of a prospective film treatment were revealed in the hacked Sony emails published by WikiLeaks.
"Super producer Scott Rudin was super passionate about the project last summer and suggested megastars Angelina Jolie and Tom Cruise for the iconic roles of Ma and Pa Ingalls," according to the story.
"Great part, superb script. Is it nuts? Nothing like anything he's done," Rudin wrote to Cruise's agent Kevin Huvane. "Think would be a huge hit for him --- for real."