UNTIL yesterday publishers Sphere Books would have disappointed with the performance of “The Cuckoo’s Calling”, a well reviewed but poor selling debut novel by author Robert Galbraith.
That was until Galbraith was revealed to be the pen name of Harry Potter author JK Rowling.
The book, which had sold around 1,500 hardback copies since its release in mid-April, instantly jumped to the top of bestseller charts around the world as Harry Potter fans realised that new material by their favourite author had been available for months.
The enormous sales spike also showed how the publishing industry is becoming less reliant on printed products.
One branch of Blackwell’s bookshop contacted by City A.M. said they had five copies of the book in stock yesterday morning, all of which had been sold by midday.
But while bookshops remain unsure when they will be able to access additional stock, the book still shot to the top of the charts as tens of thousands of fans instead downloaded the novel as an eBook.
The strong sales will also boost for the fortunes of Little, Brown Book Group – Sphere’s parent company – which is in turn part of French publishing giant Hachette.
The Sunday Times claims it discovered that Rowling is actually Galbraith after running the novel through a textual analysis programme.
The author said writing under a pen name was liberating and it had been “wonderful to publish without hype and expectation”.