When Amber-Allen Publishing released Don Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements in 1997, the editors never imagined that the book would become a classic of the personal growth genre, championed by Oprah Winfrey, and go on to sell 5.2 million copies. An illustrated 15th-anniversary commemorative edition is now available.
Janet Mills, founder and president of Amber-Allen (distributed by Hay House) in San Rafael, Calif., first met Ruiz after a mutual friend suggested she sign up for one of the Toltec master’s “Power Journeys” near the pyramids around Teotihuacán, Mexico. Mills and Ruiz quickly became friends, and not long afterward she decided to publish the author’s first book. “Although English is my second language,” Ruiz says, “I can speak and write in that language. I dictated The Four Agreements to Janet—in English—and she edited it for me perfectly.” The book is now available in 15 languages in 30 countries.
Mills laughs when she thinks about the first printing of The Four Agreements, which was only 6,500 copies. The book sold steadily over the next couple of years, primarily through word of mouth, and through April 2000 had gone through nine printings with total sales of 125,000 copies. But when Ellen DeGeneres happened to mention it on the Oprah Winfrey Show, the talk show queen became a fan of The Four Agreements and publicized it in the premier issue of O, the Oprah Magazine in May 2000. Ruiz’s book soared to #1 on the New York Times bestseller list. “By the end of 2000 we had printed almost a million copies in 19 printings,” Mills says.
To celebrate the 15th anniversary of The Four Agreements, last fall Amber-Allen published a four-color gatefold paperback edition illustrated throughout with original artwork by Nicholas Wilton. When asked why his book has attracted so many fans all over the world, Ruiz, who now lives in California, says, “The Four Agreements are a way of life based on wisdom rather than common sense. They’re so simple they resonate with every human being. “