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Rebuck hails "joyous" Booker win for Barnes
19.10.11 | Charlotte Williams and Lisa Campbell
Random House is reprinting 75,000 copies of Julian Barnes' The Sense of an Ending this morning, following its victory at the Man Booker prize last night, with Random House c.e.o. Gail Rebuck heralding the win as "the most joyous of occasions".
It was also announced last night that the Man Group has signed a 10 year deal to back the prize.
Rebuck, who attended the ceremony at Guildhall in London where the prize was announced, said: "I have been to many Booker prize dinners but this was the most joyous of occasions. It was absolutely right that Julian won the prize for his brilliant and compelling novel. What was palpable in the room was the absolute sense of delight that the judges had chosen such a perfect winner. Congratulations to Julian and to everyone at Jonathan Cape and Vintage Publishing."
Vintage sales director Tom Drake Lee said a reprint had already been ordered. He said: "We might take a view tomorrow if we do more. The sales potential is enormous. It is definitely one of the big books for Christmas. It's phenomenal for Vintage. In this heavily populated time of year, where we've had Super Thursday, and now a literary book like this that anyone can read, it is amazing . . . Who knows what we might print as the days go on."
Paperback publication is due for the title next May, but Drake Lee said: "We will have a conversation with Julian about the paperback. We haven't taken a view on that yet. The hardback at £12.99 is good value anyway...but we have to make sure that when we move it is the right time for everyone—for us financially, for Julian and for the retailers. I think this modern move into paperback as soon as possible as soon as you've won a prize is not always necessarily the right decision and we are not in a rush to do that."
He said in terms of Barnes' backlist, the rights to which Vintage acquired just last year, it was likely to be Arthur and George and Flaubert's Parrot that could be most likely to take off commercially. He said all Barnes' backlist had been reprinted in "anticipation of a sales boost from the extra attention of being on the shortlist. We will be contacting all the retailers."
Speaking at the Random House party for Barnes last night, held at Two Brydges in central London, an emotional Dan Franklin, who publishes Barnes for Jonathan Cape, said: "It's just so fantastic, I'm so happy. A lot of things could have happened tonight, and the right thing did."
Also speaking at the party, Vintage key accounts manager for independents Kate Gunning said: "I'm so thrilled and I think it's great for bookshops. He's been such a brilliant author in terms of calibre and sales and it's great to be able to celebrate that."
Random House Group sales and marketing director, East Asia, David Parrish added: "It's just wonderful. He's just a brilliant literary writer who writes from the heart and that's an amazing combination."
Waterstone’s said it had ordered extra copies of The Sense of An Ending and always saw a “huge uplift” in sales of a Man Booker winner. The retailer's spokesman Jon Howells said: “I enjoyed the book and everyone I know enjoyed the book and I think it was an absolutely worthy winner. Hopefully it will put any of the lingering sour grapes around this Booker list to bed. I think it is one of those books which keeps turning in your head a long time after you have finished it. It is very subtle. There are lines where you go back and realise there is more than one meaning and its is a great example of very tight, considered, writing while at the same time being incredibly readable, which I think that is a great thing.”
He added: “Obviously we have got a lot of stock on the shelves anyway but sales always rocket. The new order is ready and we will be putting it on the shelves very shortly. This has been our bestselling Booker shortlist ever, particularly driven by the fact the books are more affordable this year—there were a lot of paperbacks and Barnes’s book as a hardback was well-priced. We anticipate there will be people who have not read Barnes before who are interested in his backlist too.”
Rachel Russell, books business unit director at WH Smiths said: “I am pleased with the winner. We will be featuring the title in our weekend promotion."
Darren Hardy, books manager at Amazon.co.uk, said: “The Sense of an Ending has seen an impressive leap in demand in the hours immediately following the announcement with a sales increase of 800%, sending it straight to the top of the books chart. It goes to show the incredible effect that winning this influential literary prize has on sales and the boost it can give to an author.”
On its books page, Amazon.co.uk currently advertises Barnes’ book under a heading of “Booker Prize 2011-The Winner”, offering 50% off, selling it for £6.49. The company said: “Congratulations to Julian Barnes, who has won the Man Booker Prize for Fiction with his eleventh novel, The Sense of an Ending.” It is also offering the cheapest e-book version of the book, priced at £3.49. At Waterstones.com, the e-book is priced at £10.85, compared with £7.79 for the print version.