HarperCollins are planning to print two million copies of Harper Lee’s new novel Go Set a Watchman according to Publishing Perspectives. Two million? I guess they know what they are doing — it’s a bit early to know what the advance orders are going to be, so of course that number isn’t carved in stone. It is already at the top of Amazon’s bestseller list (LA Times, The Daily Beast). But a two-million copy run is going to tie up a few machines for a few weeks. In the event, I’ll be amazed if they don’t reduce that number (what economy of scale is available at this dizzying pinnacle of run length?) and just settle for phased reprinting — which would of course have the effect of hedging the bet.

Of course a lot of people love To Kill a Mockingbird (over 40 million sold) which seems to have originated as a prequel to this “new” book. This Guardian post tells us that the whole story was originally envisaged as a trilogy. Still, the original editor who looked at Go Set a Watchman may possibly have had good reason for advising the author to focus on the main character, Scout’s childhood reminiscences. But HarperCollins do have the advantage of having actually read the new book!

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