It’s been five years since J.K. Rowling’s final Harry Potter novel was released, and in that time the author has dedicated herself to writing her first widespread work of grown-up literature. That work — titled The Casual Vacancy — arrived this week to a mixture of positive and lukewarm reviews and somewhat sluggish sales. It’s no Harry Potter book launch, no, but the smart, politically savvy book might be worth a look if you enjoy satire.
The book had day-one availability in almost all the digital forms you could want, including Amazon’s Kindle, Apple’s iBooks, and Barnes & Noble’s Nook ebook stores. The going price seems to be $17.99. That’s a bit steeper than you can expect ebooks to cost in the future; a legal settlement that recently went through will push ebook prices down a bit, but for now you’ll be paying that amount.
Initial reviews, as we said, have been relatively lukewarm. We’ve seen some glowing ones, sure, but others make unfavorable comparisons to Harry Potter. That may not be entirely fair, as some of the criticism reeks of expectations of a certain kind of world-building literature as opposed to what Rowling seems to be going for with this very different work.
If you believe some anecdotal reports, then sales have been lukewarm too. A Washington Post piece describes local Washington, D.C. bookstores aghast at the lack of interest in buying the numerous copies they ordered to meet perceived demand. But we wouldn’t be surprised if the digital sales tell an entirely different story. Indeed, The Casual Vacancy currently tops of the Kindle, iBooks, and Nook sales charts, leading us to wonder if book’s supposedly slow retail sales speak more to the failure of traditional bookstores than they do to Rowling’s failure.
The links to purchase the book from those sources are below if you want to give it a read and decide for yourself.