When universities publish books, they’re usually only read by a handful of scholars. Total sales of 5,000 copies over a book’s entire life would usually be considered a “wild success,” according to Vanderbilt University Press marketing director Betsy Phillips. But Strong Inside, about how Nashville native Perry Wallace integrated SEC basketball, has sold that many in just its first six weeks.
Almost immediately after the Dec. 1 release, Phillips says she got calls from local stores that had sold out and needed more. Amazon ran out of stock. Nashville audiences showed up at book signings by the hundreds, eager to snap up copies.
Phillips takes no credit for the book’s success. Perry Wallace is a compelling subject, she says, and the author, Andrew Marannis, works for a public relations firm that’s helped get the word out. But she hopes this book might open other doors. So the next time she calls a media outlet like the Washington Post and says she has a book their readers would enjoy, perhaps their editors will recognize that she’s not just talking big. “I was right about Strong Inside,” Philips hopes they’ll think, “so maybe I’m right about this.”
In the meantime, she’ll keep scrambling to meet current demand. Strong Inside has already gone into a second run, with 12,000 copies printed to date.