Arundhati Roy’s debut novel has sold over six million copies since its publication, say her publishers. So, book stores are naturally optimistic about The Ministry Of Utmost Happiness, preparing to stock several hundred copies on Day 1 itself.
The Blossom Book House in Bengaluru, for instance, is making sure it has 200 copies available for sale on 6 June. Karuna Kara, the store’s manager, says that approximately 10-15 copies of The God Of Small Things sell a month—no other book by an Indian author, he adds, sells as well—and he expects its popularity to go up with the release of the new novel.
With regulars making enquiries about Ministry since April, Bahri Sons, in Delhi’s upscale Khan Market, believes the novel will be the bookshop’s star attraction.
Keen Indian readers, though, have taken the safer route of pre-ordering the novel on online platforms such as Amazon and Flipkart. According to an Amazon India spokesperson, Ministry has already reached its “top 50 best-seller books" list—an impressive response perhaps fuelled by its offer of a signed copy for customers who pre-order the book. It has also noticed the rising popularity of The God Of Small Things—“30% since the announcement of the author’s new book (in October 2016)," says Nair. This puts the 20-year-old book among the top 250 best-sellers on Amazon.in.
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Vandita Thomas from Flipkart corporate communications adds: “Arundhati’s new book is the highest pre-ordered literary book on the platform in the last few years. And owing to the buzz around her new book, The God Of Small Things, too, is trending 5 times higher on our platform." Flipkart will also be offering signed copies to customers who have pre-ordered the novel, for Rs459.
In the UK, too, Waterstones has been offering signed copies of The Ministry Of Utmost Happiness—at £18.99 (around Rs1,595) on pre-orders. While Roy will be on an extensive book tour of the UK, this will no doubt be a boon for fans who won’t get a chance to attend her signing events.