PRH reveals ambitious campaign to launch Philip Pullman's The Secret Commonwealth

PRH reveals ambitious campaign to launch Philip Pullman's The Secret Commonwealth

Penguin Random House has unveiled launch plans ahead of The Secret Commonwealth’s publication next month with almost 2,000 fans attending events at Waterstones and Blackwell’s.

Pullman’s second novel in The Book of Dust trilogy will be published on 3rd October 2019 by David Fickling Books in association with PRH. It is “set to be a global cultural moment celebrated by readers and bookshops alike, with two spectacular launch events taking place alongside a comprehensive marketing and PR campaign," PRH said.

Around 1,800 fans will attend sold-out events hosted by Waterstones and Blackwell’s during publication week for the book, which is set 20 years after the events of La Belle Sauvage: The Book of Dust Volume One (published in October 2017 by David Ficking Books/PRH). The trilogy is set in the same universe as Pullman's His Dark Materials series which featured Northern Lights, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass (Scholastic).

Waterstones will host the first public event on the eve of publication, Wednesday 2nd October 2019, at Alexandra Palace in north London. “Readers will be taken on a thrilling journey through Lyra’s life at the recently restored Alexandra Palace Theatre, and will be the first to get their hands on a signed copy of the new book,” PRH said. There will be readings from special guests including from actors such as Anne-Marie Duff and Raffiella Chapman, who are due to star in the primetime television adaptation of His Dark Materials, airing on BBC One this autumn. The evening will culminate in a Q&A with Pullman hosted by author and executive editor of VICE UK, Zing Tsjeng which will be broadcast on Facebook. 

Altogether more than 100 Waterstones stores across the country will also be hosting celebrations, from a Speakeasy event in Edinburgh to a ‘Sauvages and Secrets’ discussion in Reading, plus book clubs across the estate.

Meanwhile Blackwell’s in Pullman's hometown of Oxford and a key setting for the books - will host a second magical publication week event at the Sheldonian Theatre on 6th October. A 900-strong audience will have the chance to listen to Pullman in conversation with self-confessed fan and fellow author Sophie Dahl in an event recorded live for the Penguin Podcast, where Pullman will discuss objects that have inspired his writing.

These events are supported by a global PR campaign focussed on selective, high-impact interviews around publication. The Secret Commonwealth will also feature on BBC Radio 4 later this year in an abridged reading, with further details announced closer to the broadcast.

To enhance the PR efforts, there has also been “a wide-reaching and phased marketing campaign” underway over the past few months with daily social content posted across dedicated Facebook and Instagram accounts, social advertising behind key announcements, teaser trailers and stunning collectable book proofs.

PRH also described a "bespoke retailer-by-retailer strategy, putting bookshops at the heart of the celebrations", which has apparently seen supply of over 180,000 point of sale items across the trade. These include everything from branded t-shirts and enamel badges to bespoke notebooks featuring exclusive Chris Wormell illustrations (who is illustrating  The Secret Commonwealth) and bunting to give stores all they need to invite customers on Lyra’s journey. Cinema advertising will kick in later this month, featuring new content from Pullman, alongside wide-reaching podcast advertising and a partnership with cult rucksack manufacturer, Fjällräven.

The Secret Commonwealth retails at £20 across hardback, e-book, and cd, and £12 for audiobook. Signed special editions will be available from Waterstones (£40) and independent bookshops (£20).