UK publisher Granta to print 100,000 extra copies of Eleanor Catton's 'The Luminaries' to capitalize on book's Booker prize win
October 21, 2013
(Guardian Media Group PLC)
– Granta is rushing out 100,000 extra copies of Eleanor Catton's The Luminaries to capitalise on the first Booker prize win for the publishing house.
The literary publisher ordered its printers to turn on the presses "about five minutes after the announcement" of the prize this week, said Iain Chapple, sales, marketing and digital director at Granta. About 50,000 hardbacks are being printed for UK stores, while the rest of the print run is destined for overseas markets.
Catton, a 28-year-old New Zealander, made history as the youngest ever Booker winner with The Luminaries, a Victorian murder mystery which one judge, Robert Macfarlane, described as "dazzling" and "luminous". Her win makes a double victory for Granta after AM Homes won the Women's Prize for Fiction in June with her novel May We Be Forgiven.
Granta is also reprinting 10,000 copies of Catton's debut novel, The Rehearsal. The paperback edition of The Luminaries will be out in April.
The win is a massive boost for the publisher following a tumultuous year of high-profile departures when owner and philanthropist Sigrid Rausing seized full control of the company. The sales increase that typically follows a prize is seen as extra-helpful for smaller publishers such as Granta. Independent publisher Canongate saw its fortunes transformed when The Life of Pi won the Booker in 2002. To date the magical realist novel by Yann Martel has sold 3.3m copies in all formats.
Booksellers were wary of making such predictions, but Jon Howells, a spokesman at Waterstones, said The Luminaries was "potentially . . . a very big seller . . . it is a historical adventure, it is a murder mystery, which readers always love".
He insisted readers would not be put off by the book's length - 832 pages - and added: "It is a really good way to close the Commonwealth-only era of the Booker with the youngest-ever winner and the longest-ever book." Controversial changes from next year will make any fiction in English eligible.
Jonathan Ruppin, web editor at Foyles bookseller, said The Luminaries had already been selling well. "It has got a combination of things. It has got a great murder mystery at its heart, a huge cast of characters that really leap off the page. I think the language is beautiful and it is so intricately put together that it is never boring."
He said the win was terrific news for Granta, especially given the tough climate for independent publishers. "It is very difficult to get attention for any sort of book unless the author is much loved."