‘Mockingbird’ follow-up sells fast in Tupelo
By W. Derek Russell
TUPELO – It took nearly 55 years to the day for the psuedo-sequel to “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “Go Set a Watchman,” to print, but only a day for copies to begin selling out nationwide.
In Tupelo, the much-talked-about novel from Harper Lee didn’t even make it to the shelves in Reed’s Gum Tree Book Store, where more than 100 copies were already reserved before Tuesday’s release.
“We were already out of those copies before they were even available,” said Catherine Mize of Reed’s. “We were not allowed to open the boxes until 9 a.m., so by the time we did the pre-sale and opened today, we didn’t have any left.”
Mize said a new order has been made, with 70 first-editions on the way to the store in a few days.
“I was the first one here to open, and there were two people on the street waiting,” she said. “They were fine knowing it would be a few days before they got a copy, I think the one guy was just happy I let him in off the street in the heat.”
In addition to the first-edition copies, a gift set is coming in October.
“It’ll be a two-book set of ‘Mockingbird’ and ‘Watchman,’” said Brandy Thornton of Reed’s. “It’ll be here in time for Christmas gifts.”
Across town, copies were still available at Barnes and Noble early on Tuesday but were beginning to move fast.
“We got more than 500 copies in,” said Latonya Harrison of Barnes and Noble, “some have sold as reservations but most people are walking in today, going straight for a copy, and headed to the register.”
The book, whose discovery is still slightly shrouded in mystery, surfaced in late 2014 by author Harper Lee’s attorney after being lost for more than 50 years. It has reportedly been published as it was originally written by Lee, with no revisions.
Lee, who is 89 and lives in assisted living in Monroeville, Alabama, is not expected to do any publicity for the novel, which has been the most pre-ordered book since the final installment of the “Harry Potter” series in 2007.
The original novel, “To Kill a Mockingbird,” was published on July 11, 1960, and has sold more than 40 million copies in its publication. The initial publishing run of “Watchman” is set for 2 million copies, all of which will be first-editions.