Since the publisher’s launch in early 2009, the Experiment’s biggest success has surprised even its staff: Forks over Knives: The Plant-Based Way to Health has become a smash hit, selling 127,000 copies since its publication in summer 2011 (it’s also the #47 bestselling book of the year so far on Amazon), as well as spawning a cookbook, Forks over Knives: The Cookbook, which has sold more than 32,000 copies since its August 2012 pub date at outlets tracked by Nielsen BookScan.
Matthew Lore, president and publisher at the Experiment, credits success in part to the passionate following of the Forks over Knives documentary on which the books are based. “Every DVD of the film includes a postcard showcasing the first book. But beyond that, it’s benefited from great timing, created in part, although not only by, the film,” Lore said, as well as from strong word-of-mouth. The books and film propose a plant-based diet, and the word-of-mouth Lore cited extends from online discussions (the Forks over Knives Facebook pages have a total of 232,000 likes) to real-world discussions: “Libraries everywhere have been showing the film and igniting discussion about it, often organized by someone in that community who is passionate about the film.”
But Forks over Knives isn’t the only book from the Experiment inspiring discussion. Lore called the response to Baby-Led Weaning—a book supporting the idea of letting your baby decide when and what to eat as he or she transitions to solid food—a “grassroots phenomenon.” Said Lore: “In a similar way [as those who read Forks over Knives], albeit on a smaller scale, parents who try baby-led weaning want to talk about their experiences. Our Google Alerts for ‘baby-led weaning’ pull up more hits than any other, picking up on discussions taking place in various Internet forums about the benefits of baby-led weaning, experiences of doing it, and often referencing the book by Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett [the book’s authors].”
In the past year, the Experiment has also increased its staff, adding Cara Bedick as acquiring editor from Gotham Books. Upcoming titles include The Longest Race by Ed Ayres (an account by a well-known ultramarathon runner) and Veganissimo A to Z—a comprehensive reference for avoiding animal-derived ingredients and additives that includes over 2,500 entries and is four years in the making. Lore said the narrative component of the publisher’s list is also growing. The house highlighted, among others, a new biography of Aung San Suu Kyi called The Lady and the Peacock by Peter Popham (published earlier this year), as well as The Philadelphia Chromosome, which, according to Lore, for the first time tells a story that is the focus of one chapter of Siddhartha Mukherjee’s The Emperor of All Maladies—one particular form of chronic leukemia and its virtual cure.