Strong first-day sales for Inferno

Strong first-day sales for Inferno

Supermarkets, Amazon and Waterstones have hailed successful first day sales of Dan Brown's Inferno yesterday (14th May), with Amazon predicting the novel's sales could even surpass Brown's previous books. However many independents said deep discounts by the big retailers made it impossible to compete.

Sainsbury's, which is offering Inferno (Bantam Press, r.r.p. £20) at £6 when customers spend £30 or more in store, heralded its best one day of sales in books since J K Rowling's last Harry Potter title, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, which was published in July 2007.

At Amazon, Jorrit Van der Meulen, vice-president of Kindle Europe, said: "We thought the Dan Brown frenzy had hit its peak, however judging by the pre-order sales it is clear Inferno could be even more popular than his previous novels." Amazon is selling the Kindle e-book for £7.20 and the hardback for £9.

Sales across Waterstones stores were "dominated" by Inferno, spokesperson Jon Howells said. Customers queued up from 5am to be the first to get £20 signed copies at its flagship Piccadilly store. Non-signed copies were being sold at £17. "Inferno dominated sales yesterday. We saw very good sales across the country ­ outside of London shops in places like Newcastle, Doncaster, Plymouth stood out, but everyone was reporting brisk sales," Howells said. "There's been a huge amount of media about it, with camera crews and photographers joining us at Piccadilly as the first signed copies went on sale, and we have the only Dan Brown event next week at Freemason's Hall, so that should keep Inferno's profile high."

A W H Smith spokesperson said the company was also happy with first day sales. "We saw a pleasing start to the Inferno campaign and it has proven popular with our customers as expected," she said.

Foyles sold 100 copies across its six-store estate, which was consistent with its expectations considering the competitive pricing at other retailers, marketing manager Miriam Robinson said. Blackwell's Broad Street manager in Oxford, Euan Hirst, said: "Sales weren't JK Rowling height but we had a few people coming in early to get their copies."

Some independents also tried to compete on price, with the Little Ripon Bookshop selling copies for £12 "while stocks last". However, other independent bookshops said they were priced out of the market, and were performing better on titles such as John le Carre's A Delicate Truth. Ron Johns of the Falmouth Bookseller said: "We're going to sell 100 John Le Carres and we'll be lucky to sell three Dan Browns—we're not going to front it up, why should we? I'm not entering a discount competition. The John le Carre is the real book."

Peter Donaldson of Red Lion Books in Colchester, said: "We have copies and we have posters and we've got a display at the front, but we haven't sold a copy yet. It was never a book we were expecting to do a lot with, and Smith's over the road with a big poster saying £6.99 makes it a non-starter. It's not a must-have book for our core market and sales would have been passing trade. We are doing well with hardback non-fiction though, and withJohn Le Carre and the new paperback of Wolf Hall."

Patrick Neale of Jaffe and Neale said the wintry snow showers in the Cotswolds yesterday hadn't helped first day sales. "We've got measured expectations but we're looking forward to selling lots," he said.