‘Cuckoo’s Calling’ Gets 300K Print Run as Booksellers, Fans Scramble for Copies

By Rachel Deahl with additional reporting by Judith Rosen |
Jul 16, 2013

The Cuckoo’s Calling, a mystery by an unknown British author, which became one of the most talked-about books in the country over the weekend, is getting a hefty new print run. After theSunday Times revealed that the book was written under a pseudonym by J.K. Rowling, other media outlets pounced on the story and booksellers started taking orders for a title they did not have in stock. Now, Rowling’s U.S. publisher, Hachette’s Mulholland Books imprint, which currenlty has 10,000 copies of the title available in all formats, is going back to press for another 300,000 copies, which it will begin to ship later this week.

On Monday, many independent booksellers across the U.S. were deling with interest in the book, but not closing any sales. Dale Szczeblowski, manager of Porter Square Books in Cambridge, Mass., said he had sold the store’s last copy of Cuckoo’s Calling when news hit that Rowling had written it. “Obviously, we’ve ordered more since,” he said.

A number of stores, though, did not have any copies of the book on hand. At places like Malaprop’s Bookstore/Cafe in Asheville, N.C., and Books & Books in Westhampton Beach, N.Y., the scramble began once the Times‘s story broke. “We have it on order just because of the news,” explained a bookseller named Mike at Books & Books.

Both Barnes & Noble and Amazon said late Monday afternoon that they were working with the publisher to get more copies, but weren’t sure when more books would arrive. Amazon noted that the novel is available as an e-book, something that bothered some indie booksellers who wondered how much business they may lose to e-books before the print editon arrives.

Other booksellers noted that those who already bought the book could be sitting on a valuable collector’s item. Cathy Langer, head buyer at Denver’s Tattered Cover, said those first sales, which happened on Sunday, were made by “smart people” who will have first editions.

So just how much could a first edition be worth? Already at least one seller has taken to eBay to find out. A U.K., signed first edition of The Cuckoo’s Calling is currently being auctioned off and, as of this writing, the price had hit 885P (a little over $1,300). A press representative for Rowling, Nicky Stonehill at StonehillSalt PR, confirmed that the author did sign “a few copies” of The Cuckoo’s Calling as Galbraith and that those books were put on sale.

But Stonehill couldn’t speak to the authenticity of the particular book fetching such a hefty sum on the auction Web site, saying she could not “verify whether any particular book currently on eBay is genuine.” She did say, though, that “any future books signed in this way will be authenticated.” The eBay seller of The Cuckoo’s Calling said the title came from London’s Specialist bookshop which “obtained the signed book straight from the publishers.”

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