Dance With Dragons boasts great sales, singlehandedly saves America, the publishing industry in that order

Dance With Dragons boasts great sales, singlehandedly saves America, the publishing industry in that order

A Dance With Dragons, the fifth book in George R.R. Martin’s acclaimed Song Of Ice And Fire series, has only been out for two days at this point, but it’s already prompting breathless news items that read like movie studios crowing over the latest Transformers movie gross. Not to compare the quality of the two; it’s just that the tone of this New York Times article is weird. It’s all Random House and independent bookstores popping the corks on the champagne and dancing about in the ensuing madness. (Check the box-office-report language about this being the “largest opening” for a Random House book in 2011.)

Then again, the publishing industry and brick-and-mortar booksellers could use a bit of happy news, what with the moribund year they’re having and the recent news that more and more books are being sold electronically, rather than in print editions. And the news that Dance With Dragons sold 170,000 print copies to 110,000 electronic copies in just its first day is certainly heartening news for those who’d like to believe that book sales can still be a major news story in this age of you kids and your newfangled gadgets and gewgaws. Considering that the book clocked in at $35 before discounts, that’s a nice chunk of change for your favorite local bookseller, and it may mean the difference between major spending cuts and quietly bobbing along for the rest of the year. All in all, not bad for a book that hits more than 1,000 pages. And fans of the series shouldn't fear Martin's death any longer, as the success of this book (and the heightened sales of his back catalog) ensures he'll be able to purchase an everlasting robot body, thus allowing him to take 50 years to write all the remaining books.

Those of you who may be wondering just when we’ll be reviewing the book should know a review is forthcoming. Until then, consider using this post to hold discussions about the book, but please try and mark spoilers to be conscientious of those working their way through the thing. It IS more than a thousand pages long, after all.

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