Embargo Watch

Keeping an eye on how scientific information embargoes affect news coverage

Book sales are embargoed, too: The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest

with one comment

Do you have your copy of The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest yet? My wife does, having pre-ordered it from Barnes & Noble last month so it would arrive on May 25, the day it went on sale. Having seen The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo with her this past weekend, I now understand her enthusiasm.

But had she known, she could have ordered her copy from the giant Canadian bookstore Chapters Indigo, and it might have arrived several days earlier than the 25th. That’s because, despite the on-sale date, Chapters Indigo stores started selling the book on the 14th. (She grew up in the northern Midwest, so she reads Canadian fluently.)

Smaller Canadian bookstores, most of which don’t seem to have even received their copies by the 14th, cried foul, of course. As Bookninja reported (scroll down to the May 17 entry), the smaller stories said the book was embargoed until the 25th, and Chapters Indigo was undercutting them.

But was the book sale embargoed after all?

When The National Post looked into the incident, both the book’s Canadian publisher, Penguin, and Chapters Indigo denied there was any embargo. The Post quotes Zoe Whittall of Quill and Quire, who writes:

While on-sale dates are not legally binding, there is an industry-wide understanding that a book’s street date should be observed. Otherwise, independent booksellers can find themselves at a disadvantage, since large orders to chains and national accounts are often shipped before they are sent out to smaller accounts.

Sounds as though book embargo policies are just as inconsistent as some of those in science and medicine.


Written by Ivan Oransky

May 28, 2010 at 9:00 am

One Response

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  1. In the UK, this book came out last summer so me and millions of other keen readers of the first two volumes were able to read it then. When Amazon first launched, it was easy to order a book from the UK site if it was not out in the US, and vice versa, but publishers got wise to that and now you can’t do that. Of course, if you or your wife had visited the UK in the past year, or a UK friend had visited you, you could have read the book by now and found out Lisbeth’s fate.

    I am in various online book readers’ groups, which feature several Australians, where I think the suffer ratio is highest. Nobody can really understand why the disparity in publication dates is so great in different regions, and why the rights can’t be coordinated. I am sure it is harder than it seems from the outside, but it does make it hard for online book groups, which by their nature tend to be international, to discuss newly pubilshed books.


    May 28, 2010 at 12:08 pm

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