Handmaids descended on London on Friday (28th July) to mark the finale of Channel 4's popular television series adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale (Vintage).
Six handmaids, clad in trademark red cloaks and white bonnets, walked through the centre of London on Friday afternoon (28th July) from 4pm as part of activity being organised by Vintage, the novel’s UK publisher, and creative out-of-home agency Jack Arts.
The stunt fell two days before the final episode of the TV series aired on Channel 4 on Sunday (30th July) at 10pm.
First published in 1985, Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale climbed the book charts upon the election of Donald Trump as US President in November last year, alongside other dystopian fiction including George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty Four.
The show has only further propelled sales of the book, and since its first episode aired on 28th May, it has spent eight weeks on the Sunday Times bestseller list. According to Vintage, in 2017 for the year to date UK sales of the book are up 932% against the same period in 2016, across all editions including e-books. Of those sales, 72% have been since the television series began in the UK.
Nielsen figures for the 1996 edition, which has sold in total 437,018 copies since 1998, show a 274% boost in volume over the last eight weeks (from 28th May-22nd July) versus the eight weeks before. Its sales have been trending upwards all year, after the Trump bump in January and buzz surrounding the TV adaptation long before it was first broadcast. The novel is also an A Level curriculum text and was shortlisted for the 1986 Booker Prize.
For 2017 to date, according to Nielsen, the 1996 edition has sold exactly 70,000 copies, which is a 515% increase on its volume at the same point in 2016. Meanwhile the new tie-in edition - featuring star Elisabeth Moss on the cover - has also sold well, shifting 35,307 copies since its release on 22nd May.
The Handmaid's Tale has been a proven runaway hit in digital, too. The e-book has taken the Weekly E-Ranking number one five times since the end of May and it topped the Monthly E-Ranking for June, leapfrogging Paula Hawkins’ Into the Water (Transworld).
On social media, according to Brandwatch, there have been over 25,000 mentions of the show in the UK since Channel 4 was announced as the UK broadcaster.
To follow London's handmaids, search for the Twitter hashtag #HandmaidsInLondon on @vintagebooks social media.