The Elegance of the Hedgehog was first published in August 2006 under the title L'élégance du hérisson by the leading French publisher Éditions Gallimard. The initial print run of the novel was 4000 copies, but by the following year, over a million had been produced. On September 25, 2007, Gallimard released the fiftieth reprint of the novel.
The French Voice program extended help to Gallimard in the translation of the novel to other languages and publication outside France. In partnership with the PEN American Center, French Voice funds the translation and publication of up to ten contemporary French and Francophone works each year. The Elegance of the Hedgehog was one of 30 works chosen between 2005 and 2008 by the organization, spearheaded by a committee in its selection process of professional experts.
The novel's translation rights have been sold to 31 countries, and it has been translated to a half-dozen languages. Novelist Alison Anderson translated L'Élégance du hérisson into English as The Elegance of the Hedgehog, and this version was released in September 2008 by Europa Editions. Europa is an independent press based in Italy and New York, which focuses on translated works. In the United States, it will be among French novels receiving patronage from a major American writer, as yet unspecified. In the United Kingdom, the rights were bought by Gallic Books, a publisher specializing in French translations.