American Readers, Waiting Impatiently For 'The Girl' The first two books in Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy are megahits, and the third, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, comes out in May. But some American readers don't want to wait that long — they're importing the book from England, where it was released last year.
NPR logo

American Readers, Waiting Impatiently For 'The Girl'

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/125499739/125570082" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
American Readers, Waiting Impatiently For 'The Girl'

American Readers, Waiting Impatiently For 'The Girl'

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/125499739/125570082" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, Host:

Some people may be using high-tech surveillance technology to get their hands on a book. Adults cannot wait to read "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest," the final installment in Stieg Larsson's trilogy. But in this country, they're not lining up at the local bookstore; they are ordering their copies from overseas, where the book has already been released. NPR's Lynn Neary reports.

LYNN NEARY: Paul Bogaards, executive director of publicity for Knopf, the U.S. publisher, says no one knew how big the books would be.

M: We thought that Stieg Larsson, as an author, should be a best-selling author, but did we see the juggernaut on the horizon, the international juggernaut that Stieg Larsson has become? No.

NEARY: Knopf obtained the rights to Stieg Larsson's books after his death. He was an unknown in the U.S., so the publishing company's first priority was to introduce him to the public. At that point, they didn't think about the need for a simultaneous release of the books in different countries. They just wanted time to build interest with the release of each book. They had no idea that avid fans, like John Gomperts, would be so eager to get their hands on "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest."

M: Well, once you know you can have it, once you know it exists in English and you can buy it, it would be crazy not to.

NEARY: Gomperts didn't waste any time after a friend told him the book would be available in Britain long before the U.S. release in May.

M: She said, well, you know, you can just go on Amazon.uk and buy it. In fact, she said, I've already been there; it's coming out on October 8th. As it turned out, it was released on October 1st. I had it, and had read it, by October 8th.

NEARY: Celeste Warrington, of Cincinnati, says there's one really good reason why she wanted to get the book sooner rather than later.

M: Impatience.

NEARY: Warrington had already read the first book in English when she discovered her husband had bought the second book during a trip to France. It was part of a pile of books he'd gotten to help him with his French, and Warrington instantly realized he didn't know what a treasure he had.

M: So, I called him, I said, can I take this book? You read the first one in English; I would like to read this one. And I did and loved it. He read the first and second and loved it, so that we couldn't wait. We jumped the gun and went on Amazon.fr and ordered the third one. And we ordered two copies 'cause we realized we weren't going to be able to share.

NEARY: And you ordered it in French?

M: Yeah, it was terrific. It was great. It was really fun.

NEARY: All this online book-buying did not escape the attention of book sellers like David Thompson, of Murder By the Book Mystery Bookstore in Houston. Thompson says the store wanted to honor the U.S. release date, but it kept getting harder and harder.

M: We had gotten several very loyal customers who just absolutely needed the third book because the second one ends with such a cliffhanger you really, really want to read that third one right away. And so we felt that it was really important to serve our customers and import these books that there was a desperate demand for.

NEARY: Eventually, Knopf found out that Thompson's store and others were importing copies of "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest" and selling them to their customers. Knopf asked the booksellers to stop the practice - which they did because, says Paul Bogaards...

M: Because it's against the law. It's a violation of copyright law.

NEARY: Online booksellers are also supposed to honor the U.S. release date, which Bogaards says consumers may not know.

M: What I would say to readers is, I would encourage them to shop at their local bookseller here in the United States, or their local online bookseller here in the United States, where no laws are being broken and you are supporting the continuing discovery of world literature.

NEARY: As for the future, there's lots of talk of a possible fourth book. And if that happens, Bogaards says:

M: Let me say this: If there is a fourth book - and we know that there are 200 pages of a fourth book somewhere - I can assure you that we will consider, if we ever have the opportunity to publish it, we will consider publishing it simultaneously with our U.K. partner.

NEARY: Lynn Neary, NPR News, Washington.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

INSKEEP: This is NPR News.

Copyright © 2010 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.