Monday 29 May 2023

WHEEL OF TIME (finally) crosses 100 million sales

Sales of Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series have passed 100 million total books sold worldwide, according to publishers Tor via the Edelweiss Catalogue.

The Wheel of Time series was, for many years, the biggest-selling post-Tolkien epic fantasy series, with immense global sales and popularity ever since its 1990 launch (when the initial hardcover printing of its very first book sold over 40,000 copies in hardcover, figures an author would sell both kidneys and a spleen for today). Its position was eventually usurped by George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire, which, propelled by the incredible success of its HBO TV adaptation, Game of Thrones, sailed to over 90 million sales earlier in the 2010s. It appears that ASoIaF's sales had outperformed those of Wheel of Time by around 2018.

Last year, it was announced that Sir Terry Pratchett's Discworld series of satirical secondary world fantasies had passed 100 million copies, putting it firmly ahead of both Jordan and Martin.

Other forms of fantasy have, of course, sold significantly more: the Harry Potter books have a likely-uncatchable tally of over 600 million copies sold. J.R.R. Tolkien has over 300 million books sold, whilst the Twilight series has sold an eye-popping quarter-billion copies. The Narnia books by C.S. Lewis have sold over 100 million copies as well.

According to the publishers, sales of The Wheel of Time have accelerated significantly, in the lead-up to the release of the Amazon television series in late 2021. The books have sold a cumulative 5 million copies globally since the end of 2020. As well as the TV series, sales have possibly been pushed by the crossover with Brandon Sanderson's enthusiastic and significantly large fanbase (Sanderson's own sales have reportedly recently crossed 30 million) - Sanderson cowrote the last three books in the series after Robert Jordan's passing in 2007 - and possibly the expansion of overseas markets, such as in India and Brazil where the television series apparently attracted significant interest.

The second season of the Wheel of Time TV series will launch on 1 September this year, and we will have to wait to see if sales are propelled further.

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