Not many people owned a copy of The Cuckoo’s Calling before word leaked out that author Robert Galbraith was, in fact, JK Rowling.
But among those who did, a handful managed to get a signed edition – and that could mean a lot of money.
Rowling spokeswoman Nicky Stonehill said the Harry Potter author signed “a few copies” of her detective novel as “Robert Galbraith”.
Wishing to keep her identity secret, she made no promotional appearances for the book, published quietly in April, and Ms Stonehill declined to say how any reader obtained a signed copy.
Bids for a signed first edition have topped $3,000 (€2,300) on eBay by early today.
“Yes, those books will have value,” said Angel Webster of Bauman Rare Books in Manhattan. “The first edition is already a scarce commodity and she only signed a handful of them under vague circumstances.”
Ms Webster said it was too soon to know how much money a signed first edition might be worth. Signed first editions of the first Harry Potter book, published in 1997 in the UK as Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone, are worth thousands of dollars.
Ms Webster said the value of a signed Cuckoo’s Calling will depend on how well the novel ends up selling and whether it becomes the first book of a series.
The Cuckoo’s Calling received favourable reviews when it first came out but attracted little attention from the general public. It is now No 1 on Amazon.com, and publisher Little, Brown and Company has commissioned a new printing of 300,000 copies. Sellers have been out of stock, and frustrated by the delay in receiving new books, which may take as long as two to three weeks to arrive.
“We’re in the same boat as other bookstores in this country – out and waiting for reprints,” said Gayle Shanks, co-founder of Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe, Arizona.
The novel features London detective Cormoran Strike. Little, Brown has announced that a second Strike novel is planned for next summer.