Sales of Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman (William Heinemann) have been “exceptional”, Waterstones’ m.d. James Daunt has said, with the book expected to top the Nielsen BookScan UK chart this afternoon.
Meanwhile in the US and Canada, HarperCollins has said the book has sold 1.1m copies across print, e-book and audio formats. This has made it the fastest selling book in the company’s history.
Official sales figures for the first week of sales in the UK will be released later today, but the book sold more than 105,000 copies across print and digital editions on the day of release (Tuesday 14th July), according to the publisher.
Waterstones sold close to 30,000 copies in the first 24 hours. Daunt told The Bookseller that while Go Set a Watchman had not surpassed sales of Harry Potter, “sales are quite exceptional by any other measure: more than double the last Dan Brown and 18,000 over The Casual Vacancy’s first week with today [20th July] still to be counted”.
Brian Murray, president and c.e.o. of HarperCollins Publishers in the US, said first week sales of the book “have far exceeded our expectations".
"Bringing this book to market has been an amazing effort by thousands of people – from our publishing teams to booksellers large and small,” he continued. “We are thrilled to see readers responding to this historic new work from an iconic author like Harper Lee."
HarperCollins said it had gone back to print on the title multiple times, with more than 3.3 million books in print currently.
Go Set a Watchman also set a new record for the number of copies sold at US chain Barnes & Noble in one day.
The title has shocked readers with its portrayal of Atticus Finch, a beloved character in Lee’s first novel To Kill a Mockingbird, but critics have called the novel more “edgy” and “ambitious” than Lee’s debut.
The Bookseller will publish analysis and full figures of this week’s UK sales chart this afternoon.