April 22, 2016
Turns out, winning the Pulitzer Prize is a really, really good thing
by Simon Reichley
First, let’s congratulate the winners of this year’s Pulitzer Prize in letters, drama, and music: Viet Than Nyugen (Fiction), Lin-Manuel Miranda (Drama), T.J. Stiles (History), William Finnegan (Biography or Autobiography), Peter Balakian (Poetry), Joby Warrick (General Non-Fiction), and Henry Threadgill (Music).
Now, before the haters chime in by insisting that the Pulitzer is worthless pandering, that print is dead, or that the $10,000 cash prize won’t cover half-a-year’s rent in New York, hear me out: winning the Pulitzer Prize is a very good thing. I, for one, would like to have one. Not for the prize money, or the adoration of my contemporaries, but for those sweet, sweet Amazon rankings.
As it happens, winning what is arguably the most prestigious literary award in the world is pretty good for sales. The crack journalistic team over at Time has the evidence:
The Sympathizer: A Novel by Viet Thanh Nguyen—which tells the story of a Vietnamese undercover communist agent in Los Angeles and the fall of the South Vietnamese government in 1975—won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction Monday, and soon after began winning a very different kind of award: cold hard cash. When the Pulitzers were first announced (just after 3 p.m. on Monday), the novel was ranked #27,587 overall on Amazon. As of 9 a.m. Tuesday, it had sky-rocketed to #88 overall, and #1 in Spies & Political Thrillers.
And, lest you think The Sympathizer is just a flash in the pan, this year’s other prize winners also saw a dramatic increase in Amazon sales. T.J. Stiles’ Custers Trials jumped almost 15,000 spots in the course of sixteen hours. And this happens following the announcement every year. Remember Tinkers? That book sold 40 copies the week before the Pulitzer announcement. The week after: 1,041 copies.
This probably explains Governor Andrew Cuomo‘s miserable sales numbers. The guy just needs a Pulitzer! Can somebody get this guy a Pulitzer?
Simon Reichley is the Director of Operations and Rights Manager at Melville House.