Morrow has a bestseller with Gavin Menzies's 1421: The Year China Discovered America. It is a huge hit at independent bookstores and is also climbing the bestseller charts at the national chains. On February 16, it marks four weeks on the New York Times nonfiction list; it's right below the top 15 on PW's national chart. The book has also sparked a lot of international interest and so far, rights have been sold to Brazil, Denmark, Germany, Holland, Italy, Japan, Poland, Portugal, Taiwan and Spain. Nearly 50 television companies worldwide bid to secure rights; it will hit international TV screens in spring 2004 as a four-part documentary series from Pearson Broadband. PW's Book News story (Nov. 25, 2002) detailed the amateur historian's claims that the Chinese reached this continent about 70 years before Columbus. A retired submarine commander, Menzies had been doing research into the Chinese explorations for 14 years, and claimed to have found significant evidence bearing out his theory. Morrow's publicity campaign was based on the principle that you can't say a big thing in a small voice. A feature in the New York Times magazine on January 5 was the catalyst for strong sales. Menzies spoke at the Asia Society, the National Press Club in D.C. and at Stanford University—all events were SRO. C-Span filmed at the last venue—500 people attended—and will air the speech on February 22 and 23. More reviews and coverage are expected; so far, the book has 80,000 copies in print after six trips to press.
Volume 250 Issue 6 02/10/2003