Warsan Shire has seen her name recognition spike rapidly since Beyoncé incorporated her poetry in the HBO-released visual album Lemonade, and her book sales are following suit.
The Somali-British poet’s 2011 chapbook, Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth, sold 78 print copies the week before Lemonade dropped; it sold 764 the week after, and has sold 13,685 to date, according to Nielsen BookScan.
The chapbook, published by London-based nonprofit Flipped Eye Publishing, has seen an overall increase of sales ranging between 700 and 800%, according to the publisher’s senior editor and manager Nii A. Parkes. As of May 13, it was the #1 Amazon bestseller in the European poetry category and #6 bestseller in poetry overall. Amazon briefly listed the title as sold out during the week of May 2.
“As you can imagine we're really pleased that, thanks to Lemonade, a lot more people will get to experience what we did when we first encountered Warsan's work in 2007—an emotional connection and admiration for a young writer's dedication to craft,” Parkes said.
In order to avoid the financial risks of a consignment distributor, Flipped Eye relies on POD services for its books, which go through Baker & Taylor—meaning, Parkes said, the publisher hasn’t had to “symbolically go ‘back to press.’” U.S. distribution, however, will be a different story. Rocking Chair Books, which represents Shire, will sell North American rights to Shire’s forthcoming book on Flipped Eye’s behalf.