LONDON: Prince Harry’s autobiography “Spare” sold 1.4 million English-language copies on its first day in the UK, United States and Canada, smashing Penguin Random House’s sales record, the publisher said on Thursday. The figures come as the first opinion poll since the memoir’s publication showed Harry’s popularity in the UK continuing to nosedive.
The headline-grabbing book was published Tuesday, accompanied by four high-profile promotional interviews with the prince. The sales outstrip Penguin Random House’s previous first-day non-fiction record for Barack Obama’s “A Promised Land”. That sold 887,000 copies in the United States alone on its first day in 2020.
In France, the French edition, launched with a print run of 210,000, is being reprinted with an additional 130,000 copies, publisher Fayard told AFP. Demand from booksellers was about 20 percent higher than for Obama’s presidential memoirs, it added. Revelations in Harry’s blockbuster book have included claims Prince William physically attacked him in a row in 2019 and that the once-close brothers begged their father not to marry his wife, Queen Consort Camilla.
The 38-year-old former soldier also said he had killed 25 Taleban during his time in Afghanistan, sparking condemnation from military personnel and the Taleban. Parts of the book were widely leaked but its contents have continued to fill airtime and newspaper and online pages. Gina Centrello, president and publisher of the Random House Group, said in a statement that “Spare” was far more than a celebrity memoir.
“Vulnerable and heartfelt, brave and intimate, ‘Spare’ is the story of someone we may have thought we already knew, but now we can truly come to understand Prince Harry through his own words,” she said. “Looking at these extraordinary first day sales, readers clearly agree, Spare is a book that demands to be read, and it is a book we are proud to publish,” she added.
The book is one of a number of lucrative contracts struck by Harry and his American wife Meghan cashing in on their royal connections. The couple dramatically quit royal life and moved to California in 2020 and have complained bitterly about their treatment in the UK. A YouGov survey published in The Times found only 24 percent of people now have a positive view of the prince – down from 80 percent a decade ago – with 68 percent critical.
Among over-65s, Harry and Meghan’s popularity ratings were even worse than those of the disgraced Prince Andrew, the survey found. “Spare” was published in a total of 16 languages worldwide and released simultaneously in print and digital formats in North America by Random House US and Random House Canada, and in the United Kingdom by Transworld. An unabridged audio edition of the book, read by Harry himself, was also published by Penguin Random House Audio.
The first US printing of Spare was two million copies, however the book has now gone back to press for additional copies to meet demand, according to Penguin Random House. Bookshops in the UK opened early Tuesday to offer Harry’s book although buyers were sparse after the extensive leaks ahead of publication. The blockbuster publication comes as the royal family prepares for the coronation of Harry’s father King Charles III on May 6. The royal family has not commented on the book. – AFP