03/28/2008 02:44 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Thanks To A Surprise Best-Seller, Atheism Is Having A Moment

"God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything," by Christopher Hitchens, wasn't expected to be a blockbuster. Its publisher, Twelve, a fledgling imprint owned by France's Lagardère SCA, initially printed a modest 40,000 copies. Today, seven weeks after the book went on sale, there are 296,000 copies in print. Demand has been so strong that booksellers and wholesalers were unable to get copies a short time after it hit stores, creating what the publishing industry calls a "dark week." One experienced publishing veteran suggests that Mr. Hitchens will likely earn more than $1 million on this book.

A spin-off is already in the works. Rival publisher Da Capo Press, which is owned by Perseus Books LLC, got in touch with Mr. Hitchens and signed him up to edit, "The Portable Atheist," a compilation of essays by such writers as Mark Twain and Charles Darwin that will be published in the fall.

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