July 17, 2015
‘Go Set A Watchman’ breaks sales records, probably makes Dan Brown cry
by Bradley Babendir
On Tuesday, amid controversy and excitement, Harper Lee‘s Go Set A Watchman was released to the world. From bookshops to grocery stores in mid-Missouri, it seems that Watchman is available pretty much everywhere.It turns out that having a book that’s available pretty much everywhere which was written by a Pulitzer Prize winning author who has not published anything in 55 years is a good way to sell a crazy number of books. Like, an absurd number of books.
Barnes & Noble were a bit sheepish with the numbers, but reported that Go Set A Watchman broke their one-day sales record for adult fiction. Lee beat out Dan Brown‘s The Lost Symbol, which I’m sure feels like the crowning achievement of her lifetime. For comparison’s sake, The Lost Symbol sold over 1 million copies in the U.S., the U.K., and Canada on its first day.
According to the Penguin Random House, Watchman has sold over 105 thousand copies in England, with Waterstones’ having sold about 30,000 of those. The Bookseller article explains that Nielsen BookScan does not release official first day numbers, but that the only other book in 2015 to break 100 thousand in an entire week this year is none other than seminal literary icon E.L. James.
Since the book’s announcement, there has been a lot of discussion with regards to the ethical implications of publishing the novel, as well as what it will mean for Lee’s legacy. While maybe the full ramifications won’t become clear for a while, at least the hordes of haters who vehemently argued that Lee couldn’t stand up with the literary giants of today like Dan Brown and E.L. James will have to humbly admit defeat.