This quickie newsbite at paidContent reports the unsurprising news that JK Rowling‘s outing as the author of a mystery novel called “The Cuckoo’s Calling” has caused huge demand for the book, and that its paper copies have sold out, driving price wars on eBay and elsewhere online.

JK RowlingI think the only “surprising” part of this story is that the usually tech-savvy Laura Hazard Owen didn’t even mention the e-book side. It seems so obvious to me that this is a clear situation where e-books win. There it is on Amazonready for anybody to read. And trust me, the Kindle people will have no trouble keeping it “in stock” for eager readers!

This reminds me of a story way back from 2010, during which a limited-run obscure literary novel came from nowhere to win Canada’s Giller Prize. As I wrote for TeleRead at the time, about the only people who truly saw it coming were the Kobo folks: they had, early into awards season, sought out the publishers of the nominated titles and worked with them to get e-book versions out if they weren’t already on offer. What’s more, they smartly packaged these as a bundle and promoted the heck out of them.

When the winner was announced, I had a gleeful email from Kobo an hour later, congratulating the winner and assuring the book-buying public that when they went to every bookstore in the country and failed to find the print copy, they could log on to Kobo and have it at once.

So here we are, three years later, with another surprise best-seller, and we’re still reading stories about how hard it is to “meet the demand” and “keep books in stock?!” Am I the only one who finds that the most surprising part of the story?

Go buy e-books, people! They are always in stock!

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Update: As you can clearly see above, we erroneously mentioned in this post that an article by paidContent reporter Laura Hazard Owen about “The Cuckoo’s Calling” didn’t mention the story’s e-book aspect … when in fact it did. We love LHO to bits, and sincerely regret the error. Below, a screen capture of the section of Owen’s story where the e-book angle appears.

JK Rowling



  1. Did you miss the paragraph that said:

    This is freaking out bricks-and-mortar booksellers who fear that by the time that they finally get print copies in, everyone will already have read it on Kindle. The New York Times quotes one store owner: “People who can’t get it as a book are going to run and get it as an ebook. By the time the books are back, two weeks from now, most people are going to have read it on some device. That really concerns me.”

    I had been considering writing something around that when I got home from work tonight.

  2. @Chris – I’d imagine I speak for many of our readers when I say that I’d love to read your take on this situation. Frankly, I have a suspicion there’s a whole lot more to this story that what’s already been told, and if I had to guess, I’d say PR team behind the book will probably be leaking at least a couple more small drips before this dries up for good.

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