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Worlds in Collision as bestseller

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Immanuel Velikovsky's book Worlds in Collision, was a New York Times number one best seller for 9 weeks, and top ten best seller for 27 week.

On July 28, 1950, almost four months after the book's publication on April 3, Dr Robert H. Pfeiffer wrote to Velikovsky:

"Allow me first of all to congratulate you, not of course for the fact that your book has become "a run-away best seller," but for the magnificent qualities of contents and form of your book."[1]

C. Leroy Ellenberger notes:

"Worlds in Collision was [..] a top ten best seller for twenty-seven consecutive weeks, but only on the New York Times list. Contrary to Juergens' saying "the book topped the best seller lists ... for twenty successive weeks in 1950"[2], it was number one for only nine straight weeks, eleven overall, at the New York Times. On the New York Herald Tribune list, the book was in the top ten for twenty-three straight weeks, where its longest run at number one was six weeks, eleven overall."
"There was no "strange oversight" that the Encyclopedia Britannica Book of the Year covering 1950 omitted Worlds in Collision. Based on Publishers' Weekly for January 20, 1951, Velikovsky's book simply was not in the top ten. Kon Tiki (published in September) was No. 5 with 128,848 copies. No. 10 sold about 81,000 copies. Dianetics just missed the top ten with 80,000 copies, ranking No. 12. Between Macmillan's sales of 54,000 copies and Doubleday's reduced volume implied by reports in Publishers' Weekly, it is difficult to reconstruct sales for Worlds in Collision exceeding 75,000 copies for 1950.*
"*It is interesting to note that in the summer Worlds in Collision could rank No. 1 selling just over 1,000 copies per week, but in the fall Dianetics never ranked higher than No. 4 while selling about 4,000 copies per week. As an example of staying power, Kon Tiki ranked No. 10 for 1951 selling 140,461 copies excluding book club sales [Publishers' Weekly (September 1, 1951 and January 19, 1952)."[3]

(Editor's note: Britain did not publish book bestseller lists until 1974.[4])


  1. Letter "Robert H. Pfeiffer to Immanuel Velikovsky" at the Velikovsky Archive
  2. Ralph E. Juergens, "Minds in Chaos", in Alfred de Grazia (ed.), The Velikovsky Affair, 1st ed. 1966, 2nd ed. 1978.
  3. C. Leroy Ellenberger, "Worlds in Collision in Macmillan's Catalogues", Kronos Vol. IX No. 2 (Winter 1984)
  4. John Sutherland , "The rise of the bestseller list", The Sunday Times, April 27, 2008
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