"Tuesdays With Morrie," from Random House's Doubleday Broadway Publishing Group, has been on The New York Times' best-seller list for 140 weeks and shows no signs of flagging.
It is the story of 78-year-old university professor Morrie Schwartz, who was dying of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's Disease. Written by former student Mitch Albom, who spent 14 Tuesdays with his old prof, the book chronicles the last days of a remarkable man and his philosophy of living -- and of dying.
"Our initial press run was 15,000, and now there are more than 4.6 million copies in print with 88 printings," says John Pitts, 42, director of marketing at Doubleday, who, along with colleagues in the advertising and publicity departments, felt non-traditional marketing methods could be tapped. These included sending free copies to hospital chaplains, clergy, hospice centers, psychiatrists and educators teaching courses in death and dying.
"We sent out some 2,000 copies," Mr. Pitts says, "and the book was mentioned in sermons and homilies, as well becoming suggested reading in hospice groups and church book clubs."
Each complementary copy included a card that solicited comments and asked the recipients to suggest anyone else who should receive the book. Several hundred more copies were sent out on these recommendations.
Print advertising was primarily in the Times and USA Today. Audio books and abridged tapes were sent to bookstores.
Mr. Albom, a Detroit Free Press columnist, appeared on "The Oprah Winfrey Show," and ultimately Ms. Winfrey produced an ABC-TV film of the book starring Jack Lemmon.