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The Guardian SEPTEMBER 11, 2009 - by Alison Flood
STEPHEN FRY TWEET SENDS BOOK'S SALES ROCKETING
Twitter endorsement from much-loved comedian boosts sales by six thousand percent in a day.
Sales of David Eagleman's book of short stories about the afterlife soared by six thousand percent after Stephen Fry raved about it on Twitter.
Fry, who has more than seven hundred and fifty thousand followers, tweeted yesterday that "You will not read a more dazzling book this year than David Eagleman's Sum. If you read it and aren't enchanted I will eat forty hats." The collection, which considers different versions of the afterlife, from a microbe-sized God unaware of humanity's existence to an afterlife where the dead are split into all their different ages, subsequently shot to number two in Amazon's bestseller charts.
Sum: Forty Tales From The Afterlives is not the first title to benefit from a plug on Twitter: in May, Jonathan Ross sent Jon Ronson's The Men Who Stare At Goats racing up the book charts after he selected it for a Twitter book club. Publisher Canongate is now rushing through a major reprint of the Eagleman collection to meet demand. "It's lovely when things come out of the blue," said publisher Jamie Byng. "I knew Stephen was a huge fan of the book [but] the impact of his tweet is just amazing. It's the ultimate word of mouth recommendation from someone [his followers] really trust, and from a publisher's point of view it's magical."
Fans of the book also include Nick Cave and Jarvis Cocker, and Canongate is now planning an audiobook featuring Fry, Cave, Cocker and others reading individual stories. An event at the Sydney Opera House in June saw several of the stories set to an original score by Brian Eno, and a reading on November 12 at the Southbank Centre in London will include turns from Philip Pullman, Miranda Richardson, Cave and Cocker, among others.
Fry later tweeted that when he promised to eat forty hats if his followers weren't enchanted by Sum, he was actually referring to the word "hat" as meaning "cashew nut" in a rare Papuan dialect.