From teasers to leaks and interviews in advance of Prince Harry’s memoir, “Spare,” details streaming to streaming have been sensational, even explosive. News organizations around the world have covered them breathlessly.
Harry describes that his brother, William, pinned him to the floor during a fight, and Harry admits that he killed 25 people in Afghanistan. He also claims that William and his wife Kate encouraged him to dress up as a Nazi, and his memory of losing his virginity to an older woman in a field behind a bar.
A tell-all by a member of the British royal family was bound to be a management nightmare. Big books, widely anticipated books, often get leaked despite publishers’ best efforts to keep the process tight. But the content of Harry’s memoir has been dug up to such an extent that it begs the question: will readers still be eager to buy the book?
So far, it looks like the answer is yes. The media frenzy seems to be fueling interest in the memoir, which is due out Tuesday. “Spare” hit the No. 1 spot on Friday in the United States and the UK on Amazon as well as at Barnes & Noble. Booksellers and distributors said pre-orders are high and increasing, with an avalanche of press coverage.
Still, the extraordinary amount of leaks highlighted the challenges, and perhaps impossibility, of choreographing the release of the most anticipated and divisive celebrity memoir of all time.
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Many of the memoir’s shocking revelations have already been leaked, and some of the most dramatic moments from interviews given by Harry to promote the book have circulated online as teasers. This was all before a six-part Netflix documentary, “Harry and Meghan,” which aired in December, and where Harry made inflammatory allegations against his family, including claims that his brother’s communications Aides wrote negative stories about his wife, Meghan Markle, in London newspapers.
Despite the risk that the blanket coverage could lead to Harry and Meghan fatigue, many booksellers expect the memoir to be a smashing success. Random House has stated that it is printing 2.5 million hardcover copies for North America alone. Book wholesaler Ingram has 90,000 copies in its warehouses to re-stock stores that run out. ReaderLink, which distributes the books to chain stores such as Target and Walmart, said it had ordered about 300,000 copies. Barnes & Noble has also ordered hundreds of thousands of copies.
James Daunt, who heads Barnes & Noble and the British bookstore chain Waterstones, said negative leaks are also driving customer interest in “Spare” and that he expects to see “the most extraordinary” in the first day and first week. . sales.
After The Guardian obtained a copy of the book and revealed Some of its biggest bang, he said, was increased bookings for in-store purchases of the book in the UK.
“It’s really kicked off a level of press frenzy that I really struggle to think of one that’s comparable,” Dunt said. “It all builds up to this great excitement that drives people into bookstores.”
Ever since Penguin Random House announced in 2021 that they had acquired a memoir by Harry – who shocked the world when he and his wife announced they were parting ways with the royal family – the book’s content has been rife in the publishing world. has been the subject of intense speculation, both in British newspapers and among royal watchers.
Publishers often protect leaks with strict restrictions, in some cases requiring anyone who worked on the book, including typesetters and copy editors, to sign nondisclosure agreements. Retailers are often required to sign an affidavit agreeing to store the books in a monitored, locked and secure area if they receive copies past the on-sale date. Some publishing executives also choose not to send highly anticipated books to airport bookstores because they pay less attention to restrictions.
Matt Latimer, founder of Javelin, a literary agency that handles several books by high-profile politicians, said he has never seen a banned book leak from inside a publishing house or printing plant. It’s in the days before publishing, when books have to be loaded onto trucks and shipped to stores, that’s when the revelations begin.
“I call it the danger zone,” Latimer said. “A week or two before publication, there is almost always a leak.”
Simultaneous international releases further complicate this delicate process. “Spare” will be released in 16 languages at the same time, multiplying the chances of leaks: in Spain, the book accidentally went on sale on Thursday morning.
Publishing executives say leaks can be profitable if they get the right kind of media coverage and increase interest in the book. During the Trump era, some of the most explosive information was leaked in tell-all books by journalists and former administration officials, often early and dominating cable news coverage for days, propelling the titles to the top of best seller lists. But in some cases, sales of books built around news nuggets may decline after the news cycle ends and the media moves on.
It’s too early to say whether the overall sales trajectory of Harry’s memoir will be affected by the steady stream of revelations. Many readers will buy the book to see Prince Harry’s life from his perspective, not just to delve into the news. Harry’s partnered with J.R. Moehringer, a highly respected ghostwriter, and a cascade of articles doesn’t offer the same narrative journey as a well-crafted book. And their story, while ripe for tabloid fodder, also deals with universal themes like race, class, and the sometimes-tortured relationship between brothers or between fathers and sons. The book’s title refers to a phrase that Charles is reported to have used to refer to his second son, Harry, as his “spare” or back-up heir, as he was already Harry’s older brother. I had got a successor.
“It’s funny and it’s fun, but it’s also clearly going to be an interesting book that will continue to sell and be part of the conversation,” said Daunt, chief executive of Barnes & Noble.
“We’re betting this book’s got legs,” he said. “It’s not going to flash in the pan.”
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