Earlier this week, J.K. Rowling, the author of the "Harry Potter" series, was outed as the true author of a detective novel called "The Cuckoo's Calling," supposedly written by first-time author Robert Galbraith.
Rowling admitted to having penned the novel, which received positive reviews across the board but had sold just over 1,500 copes since publication earlier this year. Indeed, an editor at Orion Publishing, Kate Mills, admitted on Twitter to having turned down the book.
So, I can now say that I turned down JK Rowling. I did read and say no to Cuckoo's Calling. Anyone else going to confess?
— Kate Mills (@Kate7Mills) July 14, 2013
Rowling, for her part, seemed to have enjoyed the freedom of publishing under an alias. "Being Robert Galbraith has been such a liberating experience," she told the Times of London. "It has been wonderful to publish without hype and expectation and pure pleasure to get feedback under a different name."
Since the Times revealed her identity as author of "The Cuckoo's Calling," sales of the book have skyrocketed, bumping it from number 4,709 on Amazon's list of bestsellers to first place, for a 158,000% jump in sales.
Indeed, of all the players in this story, Amazon emerged as the true winner. Brick-and-mortar bookstores were caught unawares -- and understocked -- so readers, wanting to get their hands on a copy of Rowling's excellently-reviewed newest novel, flocked to their neighborhood e-bookshop, where unlimited copies awaited them.
The story certainly raises questions about publishers' reluctance to back a well-written book by an unknown author, but it also speaks to the state of the industry that what was arguably the year's biggest publishing coup effectively sidestepped traditional booksellers altogether.