Former leading New Zealand publisher and bookseller, and widely experienced judge of both the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the Montana New Zealand Book Awards, talks about what he is currently reading, what impresses him and what doesn't, along with chat about the international English language book scene, and links to sites of interest to booklovers.
Saturday, September 29, 2012
Booksellers sceptical about JK and the Chamber of Secrets
0 inSharOnly one Australian reviewer has read JK Rowling’s first book for adults, which goes on sale at 5pm today. The secrecy around The Casual Vacancy is a Harry Potter-like mystery.
Jennifer Byrne, whose exclusive chat with JK Rowling screens on ABC1 tonight, is the only reviewer in Australia to have read her new novel The Casual Vacancy ahead of its worldwide release this afternoon.
No copy was allowed to be sent to Australia. Byrne had to fly to London and sit in the offices of Little Brown, Rowling’s publisher, every day to read the book. She was banned from even taking the book back to her hotel to read. “They were very charming and they would make a cup of coffee and take me to a room with a view over the Thames and there I would sit. It took about three and a half days to finish,” she told Crikey.
Before she even got her hands on the book, which was a spiral-bound manuscript kept in a manilla envelope, Byrne had to sign three different confidentiality agreements (including one which said she wasn’t allowed to say there was a confidentiality agreement, but the publishers agreed she would struggle to keep that quiet). “The only frustration, which was a huge frustration, was there was no one else to talk about the book with,” said Byrne.
Rowling’s first non-Harry Potter book, and the first aimed at adults, is a gritty contemporary novel about a local council election in a English town, covering Muggle issues of public housing, poverty and abuse. The UK Telegraph’s Allison Pearson — one of a handful of reviewers who’ve read it after signing hefty legal contracts — calls the ending “so howlingly bleak that it makes Thomas Hardy look like PG Wodehouse”.
At 5pm AEST today — 8am in London, 3am in New York, 11am in St Petersburg — the book goes on sale. It’s all about creating “a moment”, says Matt Hoy, the sales and marketing manager at Hachette Australia, the book’s Australian publishers. “Just like the public globally expect music and film and television to be simultaneous to them in all territories at the same time, we strive to do that with books as well,” said Hoy. Read the full piece at Crikey Weekender.
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