Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Neuromancer print run

I get all kinds of interesting questions in email, including this one:
For several years, I have been collecting 1st, 2nd and 3rd printings of the original Ace Science Fiction Specials pb of "Neuromancer" (William Gibson).

The ISBNs are 0-441-56956-0, 0-441-56957-9, and 0-441-56958-7, respectively.

I'm very much interested in knowing how many copies of these early editions - the only ones with cover art by Andy Warhola - were printed.

Any advise you can provide on how I might go about seeking an answer to this question would be much appreciated.
My answer:

That's a very good question. William Gibson himself might know, but publishers actually only report copies sold, not copies printed, to authors. His editor on Neuromancer, Terry Carr, would have known, but he's dead. Gibson's current editor, at Penguin USA (Ace's parent company), is Susan Allison, and she might have access to the old print-run figures (but, then again, they might be in long-archived paper files), although publishers normally consider that sort of information proprietary, and so she might not give it out.

If I had to guess, though, I'd say the first printing of a 1984 first novel in mass-market paperback for which the publisher had high hopes (which they did have for this book; that's why it was done in the Ace New Specials Line) would have been between 20,000 and 50,000 copies. Back then, it wouldn't have been economical to do any mass-market title in fewer than 10,000 copies, so that's the absolute minimum, I should think.

If anybody's got a better answer, I'll pass it on to my correspondent.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site


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