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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 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.