In 1925, the year after Gene Stratton-Porter’s death, it was estimated that about 10,000,000
copies of her books had been sold. Based on that number and an average thickness of the
different books, another estimate about her books was also put forth. If every book sold could
be stacked on top of each other into a single pile, that pile would be 1,250,000 feet tall!
I found that number to be so large I couldn’t really grasp how high it was. So I divided it by
5280, which is the number of feet in a mile, and came up with a stack of books that would
be 236 3⁄4 miles to the top!!! Out of curiosity I looked on the internet to see how high up the
International Space Station was orbiting the earth. On average, it orbits 230 miles above the
surface of our planet. If it really were possible to make a stack of all the books Gene had sold
by the time of her death, the space station would have to be careful its orbit did not run into it!
Maybe a stack of books hundreds of miles high seems too outrageous to think about.
Another way of explaining how many books Gene sold has to do with time. Ten million copies
sold would average out to over 1600 books a day, every day, for 17 years. This would be over
a book a minute being sold every minute of every day for 17 years straight! By any account,
Gene Stratton-Porter sold a lot of books.
Gene was one of the best-selling authors of her time. In seven different years with six
different books she made the top ten bestseller list. Her first bestseller was "The Harvester",
which was number 5 in 1911, but was number 1 in 1912. Her second was "Laddie" which made
the number 3 spot in 1913. Next was "Michael O’Halloran" which was number 3 in 1915. "A
Daughter of the Land" was number 9 in 1918. "Her Father’s Daughter" was number 8 in 1921.
Gene’s last book that made the top ten bestseller list did so after her death at the end of 1924.
"Keeper of the Bees" made the number 3 spot in 1925.
Oddly enough, the two of Gene’s books that have sold the greatest number of copies over
the years never made the top ten bestseller list. Her two most popular and famous books,
"Freckles" and "A Girl of the Limberlost", have each sold well over 2 million copies, but have done so over many years and were both published before Gene’s first appearance on the bestseller list. Even today, the two books which sell the best at the Limberlost Gift Shop are "Freckles" and "A Girl of the Limberlost." Gene Stratton-Porter was certainly not what we would call nowadays a “one-hit wonder”!