The Gothamist: “Two sweet summer interns from Random House worked their way through offering free copies of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry (which at least a hundred people started reading then and there). They told us Random House does that kind of giveaway once or twice a summer.”
This week, Rachel Joyce‘s novel debuted on the Indie bestseller list and holds the No. 28 spot on the New York Times bestseller list (in Hardcover Fiction). Back in 2009, UK publisher Quercus employed a similar marketing method for a once unknown book called The Girl Who Played with Fire (the second title of Stieg Larsson‘s wildly popular Millennium trilogy).
At the time, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (book one) was not considered a commercial success. After the release of book two, Quercus handed out copies of the Larsson novel to public train and bus passengers. This guerilla marketing approach may have helped lift the series onto UK bestseller lists.