Retail giant Amazon is publicly apologizing to Margaret Atwood, the author of the popular novel and basis for the Hulu series, The Handmaid’s Tale, for accidentally shipping copies of its sequel, The Testaments, ahead of its release date. The new novel, which is a direct sequel to the story told in The Handmaid’s Tale (published in 1985) has been eagerly awaited.
CNN reported that Amazon blamed the glitch which caused them to ship the books in advance of its Sept. 10 publication date on a “technical error.” But shipping or selling novels in advance of their release date is a cardinal sin in the bookselling world.
In a statement provided to CNN’s business editor, an Amazon spokesperson stated that the company regrets the error.
“Due to a technical error a small number of customers were inadvertently sent copies of Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments. We apologize for this error; we value our relationship with authors, agents, and publishers, and regret the difficulties this has caused them and our fellow booksellers.”
The publisher, Doubleday, received backlash from many independent booksellers who contacted them to complain about the early release. Todd Doughty, executive director of Doubleday, a division of Penguin Random House stated that it was a limited number of copies, and the problem had been “rectified.”
2019 is garbage, but at least we got to see two novelists on the cover of "Time."— Literary Hub (@lithub) September 4, 2019
But while Doughty stated for the record that it was a “limited number of copies,” The Guardian suggested it was approximately 800 books which shipped before the official release date. The security surrounding Atwood’s new release was tight, and in an agreement with the publisher, any retailer who received their copies in advance had to promise to keep them separate and in a secure area until the official publication date passed.
Doughty also apologized to all of Atwood’s loyal fans who waited patiently to receive their copies.
“We appreciate that readers have been waiting patiently, in some cases for more than 30 years, for the much anticipated sequel … In order to ensure our readers around the world receive their copies on the same day, our global publication date remains Tuesday 10 September.”
But several independent booksellers are still angry, but not just because of the leak. Doubleday is still holding off shipping copies of the book to bookstores, due to the previous contract that was in place. However, booksellers are getting nervous they won’t receive the books in time for the release date.
Rachel Cass, of Harvard Bookstore in Massachusetts, stated that she signed the “very strict” agreement, but still hadn’t received her shipment of books, which will officially go on sale this coming week. She said it makes booksellers look bad, and she fears customers will go to Amazon and skip the bookstore in the future.
“They will come into our store and see that we don’t have it yet. They won’t know or care about embargoes; they will just see that Amazon can supply them a book and we can’t.