Rowling's ruse

Crime novel becomes elusive overnight
Jul. 20, 2013 @ 03:07 AM

Fifteen-hundred copies were shipped across the world. Two of them found a home in the High Point Public Library.
Then Rowling mania broke out.
On April 30, a crime novel called “The Cuckoo’s Calling” hit store shelves, billed as a debut novel by a British man with military experience using the pseudonym Robert Galbraith.
Julie Raynor, the Readers’ Services Supervisor at the library, said the library staff heard positive reviews and decided to order a couple of copies to give “Robert Galbraith” a chance.
“We look for the debut authors and we try to get one or two copies, just to see how they go,” she said.
On Sunday, the Times of London revealed that Robert Galbraith was none other than Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling.
By Monday morning, physical copies of the book from many online retailers, including those on and Barnes & Noble’s website, had all been snatched up. The library’s two copies were checked out with growing wait lists.
Raynor said this week she visited several stores that sell books, hoping to buy more copies for the library, but had no luck.
The library ordered two more copies, but Raynor said she can’t predict when they will come in. The library also ordered two electronic copies, which only one person at a time can check out.
In July 2007, hundreds of book lovers gathered at Barnes & Noble and, using a wristband system, the store began selling the final installment of the Harry Potter series at midnight.
Rowling’s most recent novel, “The Casual Vacancy,” was met with mixed reviews and did not fly off the shelves like the Harry Potter series.
With so little notice for a skyrocket in demand, though, “The Cuckoo’s Calling” may not make it to those shelves for weeks.
Raynor said it’s too soon to tell if this will go down as one of the great literary pseudonym feats in modern times, such when Stephen King published a string of novels as “Richard Bachman.”
“This is potentially a pretty big deal, but it’s hard to say right now,” she said. “The fact that she published it in April and kept it a secret until just (Sunday) for me is a big deal.”


Want to get your hands on a copy?

It might take a bit of magic to find a physical copy of “The Cuckoo’s Calling.” Here are your options:

• The book is available in electronic form. Tablet and electronic reading-device owners can download it from the website of any company that sells the book.
• Barnes & Noble on Mall Loop Road will not have copies until early August, but you can pre-order now. Visit the store or call 886-1331 for more information.
• The High Point Public Library has two physical copies — with at least 15 people on the growing wait list — and two electronic copies. To join a wait list, visit the library’s catalog on its website. To learn about electronic checkout, visit the library in person or see this page.