Icon Books has apologised to indie booksellers who could not get copies of The Etymologicon in the run up to Christmas after the book became a surprise "runaway success."
The title by Mark Forsyth was featured on BBC Radio 4's "Book of the Week" over five days from Monday 19th December and its publishers Icon then experienced an unprecedented demand for it in the last week before Christmas.
In The Bookseller's Christmas Trading Survey, many indies reported they were not able to get hold of copies in time to pass onto customers before Christmas.
Sarah Donaldson from Red Lion Books in Colchester said: "The Etymologicon was read on Radio Four and very well received. It lasted on the shelf for six minutes when we put out six copies out . . . (but then we) couldn't get hold of it."
Nic Bottomley from Mr B's Emporium of Reading Delights in Bath also commented the title was among those he "couldn't get hold of."
Managing director of Icon, Philip Cotterell, said he had ordered five reprints of the book in December alone and had staff hand delivering copies to shops so they would get there in time.
He said: "I think with the best will in the world, because it happened so quickly, we were rushing around to deliver stock because we wanted to supply as many people as we possibly could. We were reacting to demand, supplying indies, Bertrams, Gardners, Foyles, Waterstone's and I think the maximum time anyone was without stock was two-to-three days. I am very apologetic some ran out a few days before, but we were printing like mad."
He said the company had now printed 50,000 copies of the book with sales "holding strong" into January and hailed it as a "triumph of traditional publishing."
Cotterell added: "With this book, we worked with the author at every step and it has paid off."