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SD historical press says 20,000 more copies of Laura Ingalls Wilder memoir to be printed


SIOUX FALLS, South Dakota — The autobiography of prairie author Laura Ingalls Wilder, a blockbuster for the South Dakota State Historical Society Press, is expected to jump to about 145,000 copies in print by mid-summer.

The press' director, Nancy Tystad Koupal, said the small state-owned publishing house is ordering two more print runs of the book totaling about 20,000 additional copies. "Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography," edited by Pamela Smith Hill, was released in November by the publishing house. The memoir, written for an adult audience, has been a best-seller.

Tystad Koupal was in New York on Friday promoting the autobiography and other offerings from the press at a publishing industry event.

"Lots of interest in Pioneer Girl, as always, so that's good," she said. "We're just trying to find a broader audience for the history and culture of South Dakota."

Wilder wrote her autobiography in the early 1930s. By then, she had been settled on her Missouri farm for decades, but her early life took the Ingalls family on a journey that includes what today are Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Kansas and South Dakota. The book was written for an adult audience and gives a more realistic, grittier view of frontier living than Wilder's popular children's series of "Little House on the Prairie" books.

The initial print run of the book was 15,000 copies, and it's on its fifth printing. Tystad Koupal said the memoir's success allows the "small little press on the prairie" to finance other projects. The additional 20,000 copies are meant to help keep the book stocked in stores when the holiday shopping season begins, she said.

Kathy Borkowski, director of the Wisconsin Historical Society Press, said the number of copies in print is "really unusual." She said a typical print run for her press is roughly 5,000 copies.

"I can guarantee you that every other Midwestern historical society press is green with envy," Borkowski said of the autobiography. "It's a wonderful success."

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