Amazon Jumps the Gun on the Pale King

One of the year’s most anticipated publishing events has become just a fraction less anticipated. It was commonly believed that David Foster Wallace’s posthumous novel The Pale King was due to be published on April 15. But pre-order copies of the novel have been available to buy on Amazon since March 22 - and some booksellers in the US are already selling the novel. On the strength of this alone, the book is already topping the March Top Ten list at The Millions.

The explanation to the confusion says much about how books are marketed and might even have amused DFW himself. To tie in the book’s release with its contents (set at an Internal Revenue Service’s Regional Examination Center in Peoria, Illinois), the book’s publisher set April 15 as the release or publication date because in the US this day marks the end of the fiscal year - Taxation Day, when tax returns are due. As part of the publicity, the book’s website features a countdown clock. But the official date for selling the book, it turns out, was March 22, leaving countless booksellers annoyed, according to the New York Times. While they organised events for April 15 on the presumption the book would be unavailable until then, it seemed Amazon and the Barnes & Noble site had been handed (yet another) free kick.

Here’s an early review of the novel. The Wheeler Centre will be publishing a preview of the novel on April 15 and hosting an event dedicated to David Foster Wallace and his writing on April 20.