Scholastic has been building anticipation online for Suzanne Collins' eagerly awaited prequel to the Hunger Games series, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, with a digital global campaign, following the curtailing of PR stunts, outdoor promotion and in-store events due to coronavirus.
Out in the UK tomorrow (19th May), the latest instalment arrives a decade after the trilogy finale, Mockingjay (2010), following The Hunger Games (2008) and Catching Fire (2009). Closely guarded with a strict embargo, to date little has been revealed about the plot of the new book. However, we do know events take place at the 10th Hunger Games–64 years before the events of the first books–with readers to be compelled by the making of the villain of the trilogy, President Snow, and his relationship with a female tribute from District 12.
Previously there have been global reveals of text and audio extracts took place in partnership with national media, including a rare audio reading from Collins herself, and the book's cover was revealed in a projection onto a building in central London.
With coronavirus curtailing outdoor promotion and bookshop events, an "extensive" global digital campaign has been counting down across social media including video trailers, read-alongs, fan engagement with quizzes and interactive challenges, hosted on www.songbirdsandsnakes.com. A virtual party kit includes a glossary, discussion guide, games and trivia, and a link to a 12-hour countdown leading up to the official release.
Scholastic said supporting bookshops was "paramount in [the] current circumstances" and it has been working closely with all retailers to maximise opportunities online in the current market. Exclusive tote bags were created for independents before the crisis and special arrangements made to get these out for all stores who were still requesting them. Bespoke online retailer graphics have also been provided to help drive sales, it said.
Catherine Bell, co-group m.d. for Scholastic UK, commented: "During unprecedented times, the support from all areas of the book trade for this hugely anticipated book has been phenomenal. Booksellers and retailers have gone above and beyond to ensure readers and fans of The Hunger Games can get copies of Suzanne Collins’ newest book on publication date to join in the global fan moment."
While Collins is not doing interviews for the book, reviews across national media are set to land on publication week and a host of influencers are primed to share their thoughts on the book too.
Over 100 million copies of the Hunger Games trilogy are in print and digital formats worldwide and the series is in 54 languages in 52 territories. For The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, Scholastic has announced a first printing of 2.5 million copies for English-language countries worldwide.