Strange Bargain for Hyped British Fantasy

Jonathan Strange and Mr. NorrellThis weekend's New York Times Magazine offered lavish praise for Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, a debut novel by Susanna Clarke that's attracting a lot of hype prior to its Sept. 8 release.

The book, an 800-page adult novel about rival 19th-century British magicians, has prompted comparisons to both J.K. Rowling and Jane Austen. Neil Gaiman calls it "the best English fantasy novel written in the last seventy years."

An elaborate alternate reality has been created for the meticulously researched book, complete with footnotes and false bibliography citations. The publisher thinks so much of the work it will be printing 250,000 copies in 17 languages.

... in early 2003 [Clarke] sold the still unfinished manuscript to Bloomsbury, which quickly snapped up world rights based largely on a reader's report that Bloomsbury would later circulate at the London Book Fair and that began, "This book so captivated and riveted me that I'm charging half the full fee."

The book's currently in the top 50 on Amazon and pre-publication copies are selling for $100 or more on EBay. On the publisher's UK site, I was surprised to find a special edition deal: a signed, limited edition of the book for 30 British pounds (around $55) with only 250 copies available.

Comments

If only - tech book publishers got into that kind of hype...

I'm still holding out hope that Movable Type Bible Desktop Edition becomes an Oprah Book Club selection. If only Toni Morrison had accepted my invitation to write the Introduction!

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