Solemn Prince Harry in the funeral procession for the Queen
Prince Harry’s tell-all memoir is the biggest publishing deal since his fictional namesake, writes TERRY MURDEN
According to his publisher, Prince Harry’s autobiography Spare is the fastest-selling non-fiction book in the UK, although it could find itself re-classified as fiction, given that it is challenging royal TV series The Crown for the number of factual errors spotted by readers. Whatever the veracity of its content, the global media campaign seems to have paid off with 400,000 copies being bought already, giving it a place at the top of Amazon’s best seller list.
“We always knew this book would fly but it is exceeding even our most bullish expectations,” Transworld Penguin Random House managing director Larry Finlay said in a statement.
“As far as we know, the only books to have sold more in their first day are those starring the other Harry (Potter),” he added, though unlike Spare the wizarding boy wonder’s exploits are a work of fiction.”
Well, in the main. Critics have seized on a number of inaccuracies, including his claim to have heard about the death of the Queen Mother while in his room at Eton, when evidence shows he was on a skiing holiday in Klosters, Switzerland, at the time. He also said he had been given an XBox in 1997 even though it was first released in 2001.
He’s even been picked up by historians for referencing his ‘great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather’ King Henry VI who founded Eton College and died in 1471′. In fact, the king’s direct lineage ended when his sole heir, Edward of Westminster, died as a teenager at the Battle of Tewkesbury.
Prince Harry’s actual great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather was King George III, who reigned from 1760 and 1811, more than three centuries after Henry VI died.
This may be mere nit-picking and could all be cleared up in any revised edition, but it has left some readers questioning the accuracy of his other recollections that are pertinent to the current family which have been roundly trashed by the estranged royal.
Aside from the frank disclosures, the book is a publishing sensation. A clearer indication of just how successful it has been will be revealed next Tuesday when market research house Nielsen releases its weekly monitor for UK book sales.
According to one source it must sell around 1.7 million copies for Penguin Random House’s $20million deal to pay off.
Random House printed 2.5 million hardcover editions just in North America where it also holds the top spot, based on preorders, on Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.
It has been published in 16 languages including Chinese, Finnish, Hungarian, Spanish and Portuguese and this is just the start. Last July Random House agreed a four-book deal which they hope will earn $35 to $40 million.
There are questions about how much the prince and the publisher have benefited or been damaged by leaks and the pre-publicity which has seen the juicier tales from Spare well told around the globe.
The book inadvertently went on sale in Spain last week ahead of its official launch date and since then the media has been able to run extensive extracts.
Several book stores extended their opening hours on Tuesday, expecting a rush of customers, though in some cases there were just a handful of buyers.
A shop in London’s Piccadilly opened early to find only one person waiting in line to buy the title. Smaller independent booksellers pointed to the book’s high price as a problem, though many are selling it at half price. Bert’s Books in Swindon,Wiltshire, placed it in its shop window along with another title called “How to Kill Your Family.”