The hype for Beautiful World, Where Are You — Sally Rooney’s forthcoming follow-up to her acclaimed second novel, Normal People — was always going to be on another level. Back in April, Jon Gray’s illustrated cover for the book caused a stir across social media feeds, which were then filled with pics of advance reader copies (or ARCs) by the lucky few that received them the following month.
Now, those ARCs have found a second life on second-hand sites such as eBay and Depop, with sellers listing them for hundreds of dollars despite the publisher’s ban on reselling. In June, one copy listed on eBay by a seller in North Carolina sold for as much as $209.16, the Guardian reports, while canvas tote bags from Rooney’s publishers have fetched almost $80.
Reasons for wanting to buy the unpublished book for such high prices are varied. For influencers, advanced copies come with their own prestige when posted on social media, while fans could potentially get an insight into the editing process.
Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, one publicist recently described Rooney’s galleys, as well as those of other buzzy authors such as Ottessa Moshfegh, as being treated “almost like trading cards” among publishing employees.
An ARC of the upcoming Jonathan Franzen novel Crossroads was also recently listed on eBay for $165, while holding onto uncorrected proofs has proved even more profitable. Early versions of classics by Ernest Hemingway and John Steinbeck have gone on sale at $28,000 and $35,000, respectively, while an uncorrected proof of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stonesold for £27,500 (over $37,000) last year.
Advance copies are clearly marked as “not for sale” by publishers such as Faber (the house behind Beautiful World, Where Are You) and, technically speaking, they retain ownership of all ARCs. However, it’s very unlikely that they would actually recall the books, or take action against a small number of ARCs hitting eBay.
Sally Rooney’s Beautiful World, Where Are You will be released officially on September 7. The book revolves around a novelist, Alice, and her best friend Eileen, who suddenly find themselves living very different lives as they hit their late 20s. Find more details here.