One day after the announcement of a new Harper Lee book, “Go Set a Watchman” is already No. 1 on Amazon.com’s bestseller list.
Lee’s new book isn’t coming out until July 14, but it zoomed to the top of the Amazon book sales chart Wednesday because it’s available for pre-order. A mock-up of a plain blue book cover is featured on the site with the words “Cover to be revealed” displayed in the corner.
The book, which comes 55 years after Lee’s acclaimed “To Kill a Mockingbird” was published, is available for pre-order in a Kindle version for $13.59, hardcover for $16.79 and large-print paperback for $27.99.
The excitement also propelled “To Kill a Mockingbird” to second on the Amazon bestseller list.
In its description, Amazon calls “Go Set a Watchman” a “wonderful new novel from one of America’s bestselling authors. Exploring the tensions between a local culture and a changing national political agenda; family arguments and love: an instant classic.”
But some are questioning the circumstances surrounding the release of Lee’s “instant classic,” following the November death of her sister Alice Lee, her longtime lawyer and protector.
According to publisher Harper, Lee completed “Go Set a Watchman” in the mid-1950s, but her editor read it and suggested that she write a book based on the point of view of a young Scout Finch. Lee then wrote “To Kill a Mockingbird” and set aside her first manuscript, which was considered lost until its rediscovery by another of her lawyers, Tonja Carter, in the fall.
Los Angeles Times columnist Scott Martelle wrote Tuesday that there’s cause for skepticism about whether Lee, who is reportedly in poor health, really wanted the book published.
“After all, she had six decades to find it in her files if she was interested in having the public read it,” Martelle wrote.
Jezebel writer Madeleine Davies also warned readers to be suspicious, suggesting that following Alice Lee’s death, the author was left “vulnerable to people who may not have her best interests at heart.”
Meanwhile, Lee’s work remains deeply embedded in U.S. culture -- even among people who haven’t actually read it. More than 250,000 copies of the “To Kill a Mockingbird” CliffsNotes study guide have been sold since the guide came out in 2000, according to a spokeswoman for publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. CliffsNotes, she said, is already looking to write a guide to “Go Set a Watchman.”
Staff writer Ryan Parker contributed to this report.
Follow Brittny Mejia on Twitter @brittny_mejia.