Frank Abagnale's book, co-written with Stan Redding, was first published in hardcover by Grosset & Dunlap in 1980 and then in mass market by Pocket Books. Broadway Books executive editor Charles Conrad read the book back in the '80s and in 1999 inquired about it, only to learn that the book was out of print. Serendipitously, he tracked down Abagnale just when the author had received his rights reversion from S&S and found that, after innumerable renewed options, the film had been greenlighted by Steven Spielberg's DreamWorks Pictures. Within 24 hours, Conrad had bought world rights and has since sold the book in 28 countries. Broadway's trade edition, released in August 2000, sold about 86,000 copies before the November 2002 tie-in edition. There are now almost 380,000 copies in print. Last October, the publisher reissued The Art of the Steal: How to Protect Yourself and Your Business from Fraud, America's #1 Crime by Abagnale (the perfect subject for the former international con artist).
Timing was also key for Thunder Mouth's Press and its publication of Gangs of New York, which now has more than 250,000 copies in print. Publisher Neil Ortenberg was having dinner with George DiCaprio, Leonardo's father, who mentioned his son's upcoming movie project. The title sounded familiar. Ortenberg soon realized that his house's license to publish the book had expired, but Knopf, which holds the rights, had not sent out a revocation letter. Ortenberg quickly asked Knopf for a renewal of rights to six books, slipping Gangs in with two by Camus. It worked. Miramax tried to get Ortenberg to relinquish the rights to republish the book, claiming that it could do a better job since it was plugged into the movie. But Ortenberg declined, and the rest is history.