Laura Ingalls Wilder grittier memoir a blockbuster for small South Dakota publishing house

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PIERRE, South Dakota — The autobiography of prairie author Laura Ingalls Wilder, which gives a grittier view of frontier living than her popular "Little House" series for children, is proving to be a blockbuster for the South Dakota Historical Society Press.

"Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography," edited by Pamela Smith Hill, was released in November by the small state-owned publishing house. The memoir, written for an adult audience, was the No. 1 best-seller on Amazon.com in late January and was still in the Top 10 on Friday, at No. 6.

"This is a definite blockbuster," publishing house director Nancy Tystad Koupal told the Rapid City Journal. "I'm surprised, delighted and excited that Laura Ingalls Wilder's work still has such resonance with readers."

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 is Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Kansas and South Dakota.

The initial print run of the book was 15,000 copies. A second run of 15,000 copies was made, and a third run of 45,000 copies is on the press. A fourth run is now being considered, according to Tystad Koupal.

"We have no cause for complaint, but just keeping up with the pace of it can be hard," she said. "We have no more staff than we had before, so it means everybody is working double time."

Sioux Falls native Katie Franke received "Pioneer Girl" as a gift from a co-worker and is displaying it on the coffee table in her Burnsville, Minnesota, home, while she reads it.

"Growing up in South Dakota, Laura Ingalls is kind of a topic you can't escape," Franke told the Argus Leader.

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