Note to publishers: Last I heard, London was only a 6-hour plane ride from New York City. And Canada? Even closer. So why do US fans have to wait nearly six months for A.S. Byatt's new novel, The Children's Book, which was published in the UK and Canada on April 21?
Set during the idealistic epoch before the Great War, The Children's Book is already being described as "a tour de force" "panoramic" and "a rich, sprawling chronicle" by various Canadian and British news outlets. What a shame that the US media won't get a chance to weigh in until October 6, Knopf's current publication date for the book. Sure, Byatt is your typical big-name literary fall release, but to really build momentum for a novel, wouldn't it be better if all the English-speaking media* were talking about it at once? (And for the record, I would have loved to take this one to the beach. The movie industry seems to have figured out that fall isn't the only time a serious film can do well—publishers should give it a try.)
The Internet doesn't differentiate between countries, and books are often impulse buys. By October, we might not remember that this is the same novel The Guardian called Byatt's Middlemarch, or we might have added too many other books to our reading lists—or we might have already ordered a copy from an overseas retailer. Guess Knopf is willing to roll the dice, but this type of arbitrary, disconnected publication schedule only makes books seem more archaic than most people already think they are.
Lucky Canadian blogger Crooked House has an excerpt.
*Australian release date is May 15 and New Zealand's was May 1, according to their Random House websites.