Although the film version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is getting all the attention, the continuing success of the books shouldn’t be overlooked. All three of them remain at the top of the best seller lists, outstripping even mega-sellers such as Stephen King and James Patterson.* Surely SONY can’t help being jealous.
Some 60 million copies and counting of one or more of the Millennium series have been sold worldwide as of late Fall, 8.5 million of them so far in the US. And Knopf, the US publisher, is placing a big bet that the books will continue to sell like Swedish hotcakes: they have turned out a print-run of more than a million copies in two different movie tie-in editions of “Dragon Tattoo”.
All of which has led us to wonder: how much money have they brought in for Stieg’s estate? Some $52 million in royalties to date, according to the Swedish newspaper Expressen. (Surely there is much, much more to come.) To handle that ongoing income gusher Larsson’s father Erland and brother Joakim have created a company named Moggliden AB, solely controlled by them.
Of that $52 million, $14 million came in during the entity’s latest fiscal year, May 1, 2010 to April 1, 2011. “That’s pretty much what we expected,” said Joakim Larsson.
And what has been done with that $14 million? Nearly $1.5 million of it has been distributed to the shareholders of the company, of which there are only two: Stieg’s father and brother.
Joakim Larsson told Expressen that another (presumably larger) portion of the $14 million will be moved over to the Moggliden Foundation, also run by the Larssons, to help capitalize it. Joakim says that both the company and the Foundation will continue to make donations “to organizations and individuals operating in Stieg Larsson’s spirit.”
To that end, Expo, the anti-fascist magazine Stieg helped found and for which he was the driving force until his death, has already received some $1.14 million from the estate to date, according to Expressen. And it has been promised $300,000 this year toward a total pledge of $1.5 million. As for what will happen with the rest of the income, “it is not yet clear,” Joakim is quoted as saying.
Another beneficiary, of course, has been Norstedts, the publishing house that brought Stieg Larsson to the world. For their part, Norstedts, together with the Larssons, has established an annual “Stieg Larsson Prize,” worth about $30,000. The prizes, the publisher says, are voted upon by “an independent jury” and awarded to “a person and/or an organization working in the spirit of Stieg Larsson.”
The first award was given to Daniel Poohl, Stieg’s successor at Expo, in 2009. Anne Sjögren, an activist in providing healthcare to undocumented refugees, won in 2010. Last year the award went to Vilma Núñez De Escorcia for her struggle for the rights of women against the abortion laws of Nicaragua.
Who says print books are dead?
* NOTE: The New York Times best seller list as of January 1 shows:
Combined Print and E-Books
- Dragon Tattoo: #1
- Fire: #10
- Hornet’s Nest: #14
- Dragon Tattoo: #2, and over two years on the list, never out of the top 10.
- Fire: #5, and on the list for 1.75 years.
- (Hornet’s Nest is not yet out in a paperback version)
- Tattoo: #1
- Fire: #2
- Tattoo: #1 (outselling Stephen King and James Patterson)
- Fire: #12
- Hornet’s Nest: #15