Prince Harry’s Memoir Breaks Sales and Library Waitlist Records

The waitlist for Prince Harry's controversial memoir is the fastest-growing holds list the New York Public Library has seen in years.

Copies of Prince Harry's memoir 'Spare' displayed at a bookstore.
Prince Harry’s memoir displayed at Barnes & Noble. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Prince Harry‘s memoir Spare, which has already become the U.K.’s fastest-selling non-fiction book after its Jan. 10 release, is in high demand as customers rush to bookstores and sign up for months-long library wait lists.

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Anticipation for the book grew after a Spanish version accidentally went on sale before its release date in Spain earlier this month, with leaked excerpts touching on Harry’s experience with drugs, his duty in Afghanistan and a physical argument with his brother Prince William. The memoir follows the release of Harry & Meghan, a six-part documentary series detailing the  relationship and conflicts between Harry and his wife, Meghan Markle, with the Royal Family.

Transworld Penguin Random House, publisher of the memoir, has reportedly sold at least 400,000 copies across the U.K. so far, and claims only the Harry Potter series has sold more books on its first day. Random House is also printing 2.5 million copies for North America, according to the New York Times, while Barnes & Noble and book distributors like ReaderLink have ordered hundreds of thousands of copies.

Spare has been on Amazon’s bestseller chart for the past nine weeks due to pre-orders and currently ranks as its most sold book in the U.S. and U.K, in addition to being No. 1 on Barnes & Nobles bestseller list. “We’ve gotten a lot of advance order for it and people calling,” said Quinn Allen, a senior bookseller at the Williamsburg, Brooklyn location of bookstore McNally Jackson. In preparation for its popularity, the store ordered more than triple the amount of copies it usually requests for new non-fiction, said Allen.

Searching for library copies

Those looking to avoid the $25 price tag have flocked to library waitlists. “There has been a lot of interest in the memoir and the number of requests considerably exceeds the number of copies we have,” said Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska, deputy communications director at Queens Public Library, in an emailed statement. The library, which has less than 200 print, digital and audio copies of Spare, has already received more than 1,000 requests for the memoir.

Meanwhile, the New York Public Library (NYPL) currently has 861 holds on its 170 copies of Spare, in addition to 1,296 holds on the e-book version and 1,140 holds for the audiobook, which is narrated by Harry himself. More than 500 New Yorkers are on hold for large print or Spanish versions of the book at NYPL branches, while waitlists for the memoir at the Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) also total into the hundreds, with an estimated four-month wait time for the audio version.

“This is the fastest-growing holds list we have seen in years, across all formats of the title,” said Stephanie Anderson, assistant director of selections for the NYPL and BPL, in an emailed statement. While interest in celebrity memoirs tends to plateau after initial announcements and released excerpts of the most controversial sections, the Spanish leak of Spare only increased anticipation, said Anderson, with more than 50 percent of current holds placed in the past 24 hours. “It is really unusual for even a high-profile book to see holds accumulate like that,” she said.

The libraries have already reordered print copies to match the hold requests, despite initial orders being unusually large for a celebrity memoir, said Anderson, who has been manually reordering e-book and audio versions for the past 24 hours. “Unless something changes drastically in the next week, I expect this to be a title that “has legs,” as we say.”

Prince Harry’s Memoir Breaks Sales and Library Waitlist Records