Harry Potter sold millions and made her one of the richest women in the world. Now JK Rowling has written her first book for grown-ups. But is the magic still there?
By Decca Aitkenhead
JK Rowling’s new novel arrives with the high drama and state secrecy of a royal birth. Its due date is announced in February, and in April the disclosure of its title, The Casual Vacancy, makes international news. The release of the cover image in July commands headlines again, and Fleet Street commissions a “design guru” to deconstruct its inscrutable aesthetic, in search of clues as to what might lie within. Waterstones predicts the novel will be “the bestselling fiction title this year”. Literary critics begin to publish preliminary reviews, revealing what they think they will think about a book they have not yet even read.
I am required to sign more legal documents than would typically be involved in buying a house before I am allowed to read The Casual Vacancy, under tight security in the London offices of Little, Brown. Even the publishers have been forbidden to read it, and they relinquish the manuscript gingerly, reverently, as though handling a priceless Ming vase. Afterwards, I am instructed never to disclose the address of Rowling’s Edinburgh office where the interview will take place. The mere fact of the interview is deemed so newsworthy that Le Monde dispatches a reporter to investigate how it was secured. Its prospect begins to assume the mystique of an audience with Her Majesty – except, of course, that Rowling is famously much, much richer than the Queen.
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Pic credit: © Wall to Wall Media Ltd. Photographer: Andrew Montgomer
| By Benedicte Page
J K Rowling’s new novel for adults is to be titled The Casual Vacancy and will be published worldwide on 27th September. In the UK it will be a £20 hardback or £11.99 e-book, plus available as an audio download (£20) and CD (£30).
Publisher Little, Brown said the book was the “blackly comic, thought-provoking and constantly surprising” tale of what happens in the English village of Pagford after parish council member Barry Fairweather dies unexpectedly.
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|By Philip Stone
Walter Isaacson’s biography of the late Steve Jobs has become one of the fastest-selling hardback non-fiction books since records began.
Brought forward from its original publication date of 24th November following the Apple co-founder’s death on 5th October, Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography (Little, Brown) sold 37,645 copies in its first week on bookshop shelves. Only four hardback biographies/memoirs have sold more in their opening week since Nielsen BookScan records began in 1998.
The biography comfortably tops this week’s Official UK Top 50, ahead of Guinness World Records and James Patterson and Howard Roughan’s Don’t Blink (Arrow), which sold 21,643 copies and 20,242 copies respectively.
More than 50 hardback novels officially hit bookshop shelves last week, with five of them earning a place in this week’s Official UK Top 50 on part-week sales alone. John Grisham’s latest thriller, The Litigators, was the pick of the bunch. The book, his first adult novel published by Hodder following his switch from Cornerstone earlier this year, sold 12,962 copies in its first five days on sale last week, and takes eighth place in this week’s Official UK Top 50.
By Charlotte Williams
Little, Brown is bringing forward publication of Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography by Walter Isaacson, publishing now on 24th October.
The authorised biography was written by Isaacson based on conversations with Apple-founder Jobs, who died on 5th October, and on interviews with members of his family, key colleagues at Apple and competitors. It was originally scheduled for publication on 21st November.
Apple c.e.o. Steve Jobs’ authorised biography, which is published by Little, Brown this November, is set to include the story of Jobs’ shock resignation from the technology company on Wednesday night.
The book, written by journalist Walter Isaacson, is set to release on 21st November, priced £25. Its US publisher is Simon & Schuster which told PCMag overnight that Isaacson “speaks to Jobs regularly and is still working on the final chapter of the book”.