Bloomsbury has conjured up a distinctive new dust jacket for its runaway bestseller, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell (Sept.), with the expectation that copies will be quick to vanish as Clarke returns to the states for a second publicity tour December 9—19.
The house has printed 25,000 copies of a limited white-on-red holiday edition, in addition to the 380,000 copies of the $27.95 hardcover already in print. The new version shares the same cover design and ISBN as the original white-on-black and black-on-white editions, and the 800-page volume still weighs in at nearly three pounds.
Bloomsbury is confident that the laws of supply and demand will preclude the need for promotion beyond the one-time New Yorker ad that ran earlier this month; a holiday media mailing that includes color copies of the cover; and a mention in the "Book Sense Highlights of 2004" newsletter. "We purposely didn't go wild announcing the red because we knew the demand would be high and the inventory limited," said Bloomsbury senior publicist Yelena Gitlin. "We figured the most effective way to do this would be to have the stores do the outreach—more of a grassroots approach," she added.
As the red edition has become a hot topic on the discussion board at www.jonathanstrange.com, bookstores have been ordering it up. Jen Reynolds, director of publisher relations and events for the Joseph-Beth Group, said the minichain has purchased five copies—the maximum number Bloomsbury has allotted per store—for each of its seven locations, and will probably display them on a holiday table. Recalling the chain's baroque display for the original edition, Reynolds said, "We did everything—velvet-covered tables, cut-outs of felt ravens." With the red edition, however, Reynolds said, the chain has no such plans up its sleeve: "We expect the red cover to just sell itself."
For booksellers who sell out early, there's also a new $59 unabridged 26-CD audio edition from Audio Renaissance.