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'The Kite Runner'

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Book sales don't usually skyrocket 15 months after a title is first out. Rarely does a book get moved up to the front of stores five months after it's out in paperback. Then there's "The Kite Runner."

Originally published in hardcover by Penguin Group USA's Riverhead Books in June 2003, the sales figures for the novel's first year were "respectable," says Rick Pascocello, 35, VP-marketing for Riverhead Trade Paperbacks. When the trade paperback was published a year later, author Khaled Hosseini did an author tour and radio to discuss his novel about life in Afghanistan in the 1970s. "Nothing earth shattering, no TV," says Mr. Pascocello.

But "The Kite Runner" is a book "people love to talk about," says Mr. Pascocello, and, in the summer of 2004, thanks to "One Book" communitywide reading programs, people started talking about it in a really big way.

The programs pushed "The Kite Runner" onto The New York Times best-seller list in September 2004. That's when the publisher shifted its marketing plan; Mr. Hosseini did another radio and author tour, and the company reached out to librarians and reading group leaders with printed reading guides and events.

Though Mr. Pascocello had originally projected trade paperback sales of 50,000, the company recently printed copy number 3 million. And, a year later, it's still on The New York Times best-seller list. It's been "so gratifying," says Mr. Pascocello. "It's exactly what most people get into publishing for-to spread the work far and wide."

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