Tuesday, August 26, 2014
THE BOOK OF HAT goes global
Two small kiwi publishers have turned indie hit The Book of Hat by Harriet Rowland into an ebook, launching it into the world on what would have been the author's 21st birthday: 26 August.
From its sell-out launch in February this year, two days before the 20-year-old author entered a Wellington hospice in the final stage of cancer, The Book of Hat hardcopy went on to become a surprise hit in NZ. With $1 from each sale going to CanTeen, the blue book with a hat made of stars on the cover was bought by students and grandparents alike, and made its way into CanTeen gift packs, hospices, adult book groups, school libraries and classrooms. A surprising burst of internet sales saw it fly off as far as Moscow, Prague and Wisconsin.
One week, the blog-based book unusually topped both the total sales chart for independent bookshops, as well as the general bestseller chart for children’s and young adult books. It was also runner-up for the prestigious Ashton Wylie Award which aims to assist people in becoming more perfectly loving. Sir Lloyd Geering was the winner, and Joy Cowley was third.
Mary McCallum of Wellington-based Mākaro Press, which published The Book of Hat under their Submarine imprint, says there’s been pressure to turn Harriet’s book into an ebook to meet both the demands of the young and overseas’ markets.
To do this, Mākaro Press formed an association with Dunedin ebook publisher Rosa Mira Books, owned by Penelope Todd. ‘Penelope’s a wonderful publisher and we knew she’d “get” Hat’s book, and she has. The ebook has been sensitively done, in the way Harriet would have wanted, incorporating the original book design features including colour photographs that helped make the book so popular.’
‘I’m very excited to be launching The Book of Hat as an ebook,’ says Penelope Todd, ‘It’s been a privilege and a poignant project. Harriet’s story also fits beautifully with the Rosa Mira list, of intelligent books with heart.’
Both publishers echo the praise of reviewers around the country, especially mentioning the author’s upbeat, compassionate and engaging voice and the way she talks more about her good luck and happiness than the reality of her illness and death. One Auckland libraries blogger termed the book 'the real The Fault in Our Stars', and Sir Peter Jackson, who met Harriet, calls her book 'funny, truthful and wise' and praises her ‘genuine talent’.