It’s the pre-order to end all pre-orders. With over five months to go until it’s published, Harper Lee’s Go Set A Watchman is riding high on the Amazon best-sellers and a cover has been revealed.
The recently rediscovered novel is a sequel of sorts to Lee’s classic To Kill A Mockingbird, as it was written before Mockingbird but then set aside. The news of the ‘new’ book has also given a massive sales boost for To Kill A Mockingbird.
Style guide: This is the UK Cornerstone edition of To Kill A Mockingbird
The US print cover for Go Set A Watchman is ‘To be revealed’ but the UK publishers of the print and ebook, Cornerstone Digital (a Random House imprint), has not only got its act together to design a complete cover along the lines of its edition of Mockingbird, but has also come up with a pretty decent blurb:
Go Set a Watchman is set during the mid-1950s and features many of the characters from To Kill a Mockingbird some twenty years later. Scout (Jean Louise Finch) has returned to Maycomb from New York to visit her father Atticus. She is forced to grapple with issues both personal and political as she tries to understand both her father’s attitude toward society, and her own feelings about the place where she was born and spent her childhood. An instant classic.
The publisher has said this is only a temporary cover and has since even added ‘DRAFT’ to the Amazon previews, but I think they would do well to stick with the design.
This is a classy, type-only cover which proclaims ‘instant classic’, as they say in the blurb. Messing around with it to add graphics that mean little to most readers isn’t going to improve it — save that for future editions.
The Harper Lee duo took the top two places on Amazon’s best-sellers’ Books list, with the hardback pre-order of Go Set A Watchman at No 1, while the paperback of To Kill A Mockingbird was in second place. In the US Kindle store, To Kill A Mockingbird was second only to best-selling thriller, The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins, although it fell back later in the day to sixth.
Go Set A Watchman was placed 10th in the US Kindle store, ahead of the Fifty Shades bundle trilogy.
It’s certainly the first time that I’ve heard of Amazon allowing a pre-order book to be shown for sale without a finished cover, but that shows just how important this book is going to be to booksellers this year. Bookstores have already declared that the betting is now off for the biggest seller of the year and the first print run has been reported to be in the region of two million copies.
The US publishers have since come up with a better placeholder cover, pictured on the right. This has its merits, as it uses classy type, which looks very much like Bodoni, one of my favorite typefaces. Again, it gives the cover a nice ‘instant class’ feel, although it definitely still needs more work.A classy type — Bodoni is used in the ‘holding’ version of the Go Set A Watchman US cover
Go Set A Watchman will be published in four formats in the US — hardback, paperback, ebook and audiobook — on the same day, July 14, while in the UK it will be published in hardback and ebook on July 14.
Harper is publishing the US print hardback and paperback and has also come up with a decent blurb that adds to the Cornerstone description:
An historic literary event: the publication of a newly discovered novel, the earliest known work from Harper Lee, the beloved, bestselling author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning classic, To Kill a Mockingbird.
Originally written in the mid-1950s, Go Set a Watchman was the novel Harper Lee first submitted to her publishers before To Kill a Mockingbird. Assumed to have been lost, the manuscript was discovered in late 2014.
Go Set a Watchman features many of the characters from To Kill a Mockingbird some twenty years later. Returning home to Maycomb to visit her father, Jean Louise Finch—Scout—struggles with issues both personal and political, involving Atticus, society, and the small Alabama town that shaped her.
Exploring how the characters from To Kill a Mockingbird are adjusting to the turbulent events transforming mid-1950s America, Go Set a Watchman casts a fascinating new light on Harper Lee’s enduring classic. Moving, funny and compelling, it stands as a magnificent novel in its own right.
It’s not going to be a cheap book, with Kindle ebook prices set relatively high at $12.99 in the US and a whopping £10.99 ($16.82) in the UK.
There’s bound to be high demand for the hardback and Amazon is currently heavily discounting it in the US from a list price of $27.99 to $16.79 — which represents a 40% discount. There’s no discount deal for the UK hardback, which is priced on Amazon at £18.99 ($29).