Just call Forbes a capitalist tool -- to sell books. Thanks to a cover story in the January 25 issue of the magazine (featuring the author with Intel's Andy Grove), sales of Clayton Christensen's The Innovator's Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail, which came out more than a year and a half ago, in May 1997, from Harvard Business School Press, have increased exponentially. The book, which is about how companies can fail because they do everything right, has been a fixture on Amazon's Top 100 list for the past few weeks, even reaching the #2 spot. It sold more copies to the trade in the first six weeks of 1999 than in all of 1998.
According to HBSP publicity manager Sarah McConville, "When the book first came out, we obviously sold it as a key book for professional readers. It was reviewed in professional magazines, and in the spring of '98 it won the Financial Times/Booz-Allen &Hamilton Global Business Book Award for Best Business Book of 1997." That, she noted, helped sales, but she also credits George Gilder's Gilder Technology Report, a print/online newsletter that called it "the most profound and useful business book ever written about innovation" for catching the eye of Forbes. Notices in the December issues of Wired and Fortune didn't hurt, either. Thanks to all the hoopla, 76,500 copies are now in print.
To take advantage of the book's renewed appeal, the press has hired the New York-based PR firm Peppercom to handle national business, high-tech, financial services and telecommunications media for first-time book author Christensen, who is an associate professor at Harvard Business School. In addition, the press is re-promoting The Innovator's Dilemma in bookstores via window displays, newsletters and a listing in the winter issue of NEBA's New England Reader catalogue.