On This Date in History …

On April 12, 2005, Freakonomics was published. We had high hopes and low expectations. From what I recall, nothing magical happened on that day.

But at 12:01 a.m. on the morning of April 13, this Wall Street Journal review appeared. It was the kind of review that, in the theater, is known as a “money review”: it doesn’t just say nice things, it actually sells tickets.

By midday on the 13th, the book had shot up to No. 2 on Amazon.com. Levitt and I received this news by phone from our publisher, since we were en route to New Haven to write an article about Keith Chen’s monkey research. We were pretty sure the No. 2 ranking was a temporary thing, a short if happy blip.

The next day, back in New York, we stopped in at our publisher’s office. By now, they had a better sense than we did that the book would be successful. They wheeled in some Champagne and a Freakonomics (apple/orange) cake. And, even better, they showed us a mockup of a redesigned cover for the book, which included a sweet little “New York Times best-seller” button.

Well, just in time for our second birthday, we finally fell off the N.Y. Times list, down to No. 17. That 98-week run was pretty nice, however, and there’s always the possibility that we’ll climb back up.

The whole ride has been very surprising and almost entirely wonderful. This blog, begun reluctantly and tended infrequently at first, has become a very comfortable online home for us. We won’t have a new book for at least a couple more years, but it’s nice knowing that whenever something interesting comes along in the interim, we have a place to air it out. Thanks.

Josh Millard

And thanks to you two for putting the effort into making the blog so consistently readable. If only every good book had this kind of epilogue.


Josh hit the nail on the head right there.

Luke Collins

Congratulations on your second anniversary and a storming 98 week run on the NYT bestseller list. How many languages, countries do you have editions in now? Any idea how many copies you have sold so far worldwide - to the nearest 100,000?


This is the place to come for interesting surprises (some of them even have to do with economics and journalism!) I passed along the Joshua Bell piece to several classical musician friends and it's livened up my email. Festoon the freakmongers full well!


Publishing that book was an excellent move!


April 12th is a great day, the birthday of David Letterman, me and Freakonomics ... Congrats!

Chris Thomas

It's an outstanding book. Congratulations.


Hearty congrats from another choir member.
Has anyone else noticed a small trend of people sort of dissing on Freakonomics? Not in print or the Internet that I've seen, but cocktail party/barroom conversation? Gets me on the defensive a bit. Maybe it's just me, but I've been seeing some rolled eyes of late, with the Gladwell books lumped in there. A graduate student economics teacher from India that I know even said he thinks the book(s) is dumbing down his classes and skewing their expectations of what they'll learn. Perhaps this kind of thing is inevitable when a bestseller hits a certain saturation -- dare I say "tipping"? -- point.


Rock on!


Where are the supply and demand curves?
Where are the money market and goods market curves?
Where are the budget constraint and indifference curves?

You're destroying economics!


I really don't know what to say here. It's hard to rise to the occasion with mere rhyming couplets.

Let me just say this. The pure joy of seeing a book based on or coming out of statistics and yet addressing in many ways fundamental questions that every parent, educator, policy wonk, and just plain old joes and janes could relate to was so profoundly satisfying to many of us that I really don't know if the authors really realize what they have done. The book was not an ending, but a good beginning.

The only real hope is that maybe, finally, policy wonks will see that anecdotal evidence is not the way to run a war on drugs, a war on teachers, a war on students, a war on women……or heck…even a real war. Maybe they will actually ask for some data before making a decision.

Ok, it's dreaming. But that's what youth is for. Dreaming. That's what books are for too.


To mark this date I can only offer
This little effort as my proffer

A book at the top of the list
Was not enough, you did insist
On a blog with characters like this

One fellow is a dyslexic pun
A guy named Hot Cross Buns
And Lermit I can't figure out at all
Nonsequitars are his call
Worse, you have two Canadians named Randy
One obviously always sipping brandy
And one is a highfalutin' dandy

Why couldn't you have just stopped
When the New York Times was topped
Do you collect awards as a hobby
Are you aiming for a webby

Oh, go take your 98 weeks
Stuff it up your cheeks
Yes, all this success is thine
I'm just mad it wasn't mine


Tommy H

Sorry for the late post, but anyways, Freakonmics has legit helped me in two ways. The first being that I scored some brownie points with my Intro to Argumentation Professor mentioned Freakonomics, specifically why crime has dropped as it pertained to the abortion theory. The second being over last summer as I was part of the YMCA's Conference on National Affairs(a national part of their state program, Youth and/in Gorvernment) when I(from Massachussetts) and someone from Texas used a copy of Freakonimcs to support a propoasal and to point out gross exagerations in another. So Freakonomics has actually proved to help me, and I love this blog(despite the all the flame mentioned thus far). I hope this blog continues with interesting topics, can't wait for the sequel and all the people who boher to sign up and read this blog for the point of flaiming it amuse me

Thank you from the bottom of my heart Levvit/Dubner

Tommy H.



Your excellent book, and Tim Harford's excellent books, inspired me as a first year microeconomics student. Now I'm majoring in it and hoping to travel to your fine country to do a phd in a few years. So from all the way over here in Melbourne, Australia, thanks very much!



In fact, I read the book and didn't like it so much. It was a good book but could have been even better.
But I have to recognize that your blog is awesome, just the perfect thing, probably the best on the Internet.


l agree your book was very wel written so anyone could enjoy it , even me with my 4 years of high school education {should point out all 4 in same grade 9 classroom }

simple to read and to understand

as for this blog l look forward to it because l know most on here are American students and l look forward to seeing how they "think"

2 changes l would like to see is , spellcheck and no more poems from egretman ..

Zach Everson

Congrats and best wishes for continued success. I heard about Freakonomics just a few months ago. I devoured the book in a couple of days and have since bought four more copies as gifts.


Well, what can I say about your book....

I am an Economics college undergrad from University of Oporto, and when i got my hands on your book, I was kind of demotivated with my course....

Well , basically, your book is one of the reasons I'm finishing my degree now... You guys and your reasearch were an inspiration for me, Freakonomics kept me going... They showed how I can use Economics in a creative yet usefull way....

Thanks, from the heart....

And congrats for your work form a big fan in Portugal...



It should read.... " congrats from a big fan in Portugal" in the last comment... sorry 'bout that :)

Josh Millard

And thanks to you two for putting the effort into making the blog so consistently readable. If only every good book had this kind of epilogue.


Josh hit the nail on the head right there.