A New Yorker website post about a plagiarist who got busted contains this incidental nugget of sadness:
[T]he publisher recalled all 6,500 print copies, sparking a run on the book (its Amazon ranking had gone from 62,924 on Tuesday afternoon to 174 by Wednesday afternoon) […]
Why sad? Two reasons:
1). A very large publisher (Little, Brown) only printed 6,500 (presumably hardcover, but still) copies of this reasonably high-profile book in a popular genre (spy fiction). Only 6,500. Seriously. I’ve had more readers on my blog (by an order of magnitude) on good days.
2). It took sales of a lot fewer copies than that (because presumably most of the recalled books had gone to brick-and-mortar stores, and wouldn’t have been available to purchase on Amazon) to get the book above #200 in Amazon’s sales rank. How many? Nobody knows. Maybe hundreds?
“Big publishing” operates at a much smaller scale than most people on the outside suspect. I’ve known this ever since St. Martin’s published my first (and only, so far) book twenty years ago. I don’t think even I realized the extent of the smallness, though.