Hurry for Harry: city readers snap up memoir
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Only 10 days into the new year, and the crew at McNally Robinson Booksellers’ Grant Park location was having a royally busy day.
Spare, the controversial memoir by Prince Harry, was put on sale Tuesday, with interviews given by the prince around the book’s launch as well as tidbits leaked online earning the bio some big buzz.
At the store, Prince Harry’s face stared back at customers from atop the front counter, where piles of the hardcover were stacked next to tills; a stack of Spare was also on display with the other discounted new releases, as well occupying plenty of space in the biography section.
Tannis Thompsett stopped in to McNally Robinson while shopping on her day off and figured she would pick up a copy of Spare if it was in stock.
“I’m not huge into the Royal Family, but I’ve been paying attention; I watched the (Netflix) Harry & Meghan documentary… I’ve watched The Crown and all that, and really enjoyed it.”
Coming out of the documentary, Thompsett didn’t have a strong feeling either for or against the Duke and Duchess of Sussex like many others. “I’m empathetic… on both sides,” she said, a copy of Spare tucked under her arm. “There was all this buzz that he was going to spill the beans and be so mean. And it was quite the opposite.”
In terms of sales numbers, McNally Robinson co-owner Chris Hall figured they’d end up moving at least 100 copies of the book by day’s end, noting the store had ordered 500 copies to start. In terms of the buzz around Spare, Hall equated it to Michelle Obama’s 2018 book Becoming, which went on to be the year’s bestselling book, or Barack Obama’s 2020 tome A Promised Land.
“It’s big like Louise Penny,” said Hall, although he noted that unlike the wildly popular Canadian thriller writer, Spare “goes beyond the book world, because it’s a news story. Louise Penny’s not a news story.”
Hall had already heard from both the pro- and anti-Harry crowds, particularly on social media. “When we posted about it (Monday), we got ‘very good toilet paper’ on the one hand and ‘can’t wait to read it’ on the other.”
Literary editor, drinks writer
Ben Sigurdson edits the Free Press books section, and also writes about wine, beer and spirits.