How bookstores say Prince Harry's Spare is selling in New Zealand

  • 11/01/2023

It appears there's been no mad rush for Prince Harry's controversial memoir at some New Zealand bookstores on Wednesday, but copies are steadily being picked up by curious Kiwis despite many of the revelations already being public.

The explosive book and its polarising author have dominated the headlines in recent days after excerpts were leaked into the British press and copies went on sale early in Spain.

Prince Harry has also done several sit-down interviews ahead of the book's release on Wednesday, dropping a number of bombshells about his family and his treatment within it.

Publisher Transworld Penguin Random House is reported in the British press to have said it's the fastest-selling non-fiction book with sales so far exceeding 400,000 copies, including audiobooks and ebooks. Penguin Random House in New Zealand said there's no NZ-specific sales data available.

Newshub spoke to three bookstores - in Auckland, Wellington and Rotorua - to gauge what level of interest there has been on the first day of official release.

Jacqui from Unity Books Wellington said sales had been "steady, but not hysterical".

There's definitely been no mad rush by eager readers, she said.

"I wouldn't haven't expected that. We have had some presales."

Her colleague Melissa thought it had "definitely been selling well" and even if people hadn't come into the store to buy it, "they're here to see it."

She said there's been interest from a range of people, but the sales she's personally been involved in were from middle-aged people. Younger people were coming in and noting it, but not buying it.

"I've talked to hardcore royalists and then some people who are interested to see what he said."

It's the first book in a while, Melissa said, to have received such intense mainstream interest. She said staff at the store think there hasn't been such curiosity about a book since releases from the Obamas.

Jenna Todd, the manager of Time Out book store in Auckland's Mt Eden, said the interest was "surprising".

She said, "the media interest has definitely helped", particularly at a time of the year when high-profile books don't usually come out.

"We have almost sold out. We have a couple left," Todd said.

"They weren't banging down the doors, but subtly coming in."

She said it was an older demographic mostly purchasing the book and they'd have "usually a little quip when they were buying it". One customer said they were interested in the "gossip".

Todd said books need to be ordered well in advance, and it can be a gamble deciding how many copies to get in stock.

She said if she had ordered the number she had originally considered, the store would have been in "dire straits", not having enough to keep up with demand.

The store has placed another order and expects them in the next few days.

Gaby from McLeods Booksellers in Rotorua said it's been more of a trickle than a frenzy, but there were some "people in first thing at 9am to get their copy".

"A lot of intrigue, a lot of chat," she said.

"A lot of people commenting they've heard enough from the interviews, so why would they need to read it."

Those buying the memoir in the store were all women, likely aged over 55, Gaby said, with some British expats as well.

Newshub was outside Whitcoulls on Wellington's Lambton Quay earlier on Wednesday morning, but there wasn't a lot of interest.

Those hoping to head down to the library to pick up the memoir may be waiting a while, however. In Auckland, there are 1106 holds of the book.