Getting in on the ground floor

I’m a terribly safe reader. I stick to authors I know until I have a solid recommendation for a new one. Last week though I got to the end of the book I was reading and saw a tweet about The Girl on the Train that got my interest. My book had ended on a real downer so I grabbed a sample of The Girl on the Train, just after midnight, and gave it a go. I’d bought the book before I turned the light out.

I’ve just finished the novel now and I’m looking into the wider story around the book and the author, Paula Hawkins. I’d assumed it had been around a while and the author was known. Turns out I was way off the mark. I’d downloaded the sample just as it was released; this is the first book by a new author.

I’m not normally first to anything of any great importance. I’ve only just started listening to This American Life, I found out about the new Star Wars comics after all the issue 1 copies had sold out (except for on eBay — my copy is now on its way) so it’s pretty out of the ordinary for me to discover a new author and be reading her book on launch day.

Unfortunately I can’t ascribe this to a sudden bleeding edge cool that I’ve begun to show to the world. I’ve bought this book because of an absolute blitzkrieg of marketing.

The author’s website (a polished affair) tells me about all the plaudits already heaped onto this book. I learn about its multiple language translations, already out in the world and that the book has already been sold to Dreamworks for a movie adaptation (I read elsewhere that the first draft of the script is done). The novel’s hashtag is doing a roaring trade and everyone is on message describing it as “Gone Girl meets Rear Window“.

In these days of self-publishing it’s easy to forget the well oiled machine of the publisher taste-makers: this book will be a hit, they’ve already told us that.

By Jon Hickman

Hi, I'm Jon. I teach and research digital culture, social media and new media practice at Birmingham City University. Find out more about me with this lovely CV: Find out about my work at the Birmingham Centre for Media & Cultural Research: