Bookshops are expected to open early for the launch of the novel at 8am on Thursday and pre-orders at Waterstone’s are the highest of the year so far. A spokesman for the high-street bookseller said: “This is definitely the biggest launch of the year. Having said that, it is not in the league of Harry Potter, which is obviously a phenomenon that built up over a decade.” The real pull, though are the online pre-orders, and they’ve hit the roof. “We have seen a great deal of customer interest for ‘Casual Vacancy’ and, on the strength of pre-orders alone, it has featured in the Amazon.co.uk bestsellers list since it was announced. It’s likely to be one of our bestselling books this Christmas,” said Amazon’s books manager Darren Hardy.
In terms of adult books, of which this is Rowling’s first foray, Dan Brown leads the way: his novel The Lost Symbol sold 550,000 hardback copies in its first week. EL James’s Fifty Shades of Grey, which has sold 5.3 million copies in print and ebooks, will also be hard to beat, but given Rowling’s monolithic name in publishing; her Harry Potter franchise making her one of the richest women in the world, she’ll have the best chance of breaking those impressive sales records.