‘Sally Rooney Day’: ‘You’d have to go back to JK Rowling for impact’

Booksellers report brisk sales of Beautiful World, Where Are You, the writer’s new novel

Beautiful World, Where Are You: Stephen Devlin with Sally Rooney’s new book as it went on sale at Hodges Figgis in Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Beautiful World, Where Are You: Stephen Devlin with Sally Rooney’s new book as it went on sale at Hodges Figgis in Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

They’re calling it Sally Rooney Day, Tuesday September 7th, as her hotly anticipated third novel, Beautiful World, Where Are You, hit the shelves.

Hodges Figgis bookshop, on Dawson Street in Dublin, opened early, at 8.30am, to catch readers en route to work. By 9am they’d sold about 15 copies. “It’s been pretty busy,” said bookseller Will Pratt. “There aren’t crowds or queues, but it’s been steady trade all morning.”

He reckoned by noon they’d sold about 60 copies. People were coming in specially for it, with signed copies moving quickly. “I can’t think of anything to match it. You’d have to go back to JK Rowling or something like that for impact.”

At the Irish novelist’s launch and signing in Piccadilly, in London, on Monday evening, about 150 readers queued outside to meet Sally Rooney. In Ireland it seems to have been a strong and steady first day.

At Eason, in Dundrum’s vast shopping centre, Ann Flanagan and Roisin Healy also reported brisk first-day sales. “What’s Hot” read the sign over four shelves of Rooney books, tucked at the side of a stand. Readers inquired about it last week before release, and came in today to get it, they said. By lunchtime Healy had to restock.

Michael Kealy, who lives nearby, came in for Beautiful World on day one because her previous novels were “some of the best books I’ve read in the last few years”. He was delighted with a signed hardback. “Maybe it’ll be worth a lot in a few years! Because Sally Rooney is probably one of the authors of our time.”

He enjoyed Normal People, both book and TV series. “I’m probably going to read this in one sitting over the next day or two,” he said.

Andrew Cotter didn’t come in specially, but “I knew it was out and wanted to grab it”. He’s read her other novels. “I loved, and also hated them.”

He hated Normal People when he read it first, but watched the TV adaptation, “which I adored. I found things I missed in the book, and went back to it. I loved it then again. Some of the characters were unlikeable at first, but seeing them brought to life, I thought, I need to give this another go. I absolutely adored Conversations [with Friends]. Goes to show, I’ll probably hate the adaptation now!”

He picked up an unsigned paperback; signed copies are “kind of gimmicky”.

Preorders for the novel, which follows a successful Irish writer, her friend and their lovers, were strong and booksellers have been busy packaging and posting.

After the success of her first two novels, presales of Beautiful World, Where Are You topped the charts on Amazon, and uncorrected proof copies reportedly sold online for hundreds of dollars.