Murder in Samarkand has sold remarkably well for a book that has been almost entirely confined to a single spine-on copy, on the bottom shelf of the politics department. To date it has sold about 15,000. But given that, for most readers, the material it contains is eye-openingly explosive about the behaviour of government in the Bush/Blair “War on Terror”, that is not anywhere near the potential. That is especially so as all fifteen customer reviews on amazon.co.uk so far (some under paperback and some under hardback) have been five star.
In today’s book market, it is only really possible to sell more if you get in to the front of house promotions in the chain bookstores. I have been working desperately at that for a year. So you might imagine that this cheered me up. My publisher has just sent me this email:
” I’m very pleased to report that continued sales efforts have resulted in Murder in Samarkand being selected for Waterstone’s 3 for 2 Summer Reading promotion. This means that in the top 260 Waterstone’s branches, the book will be displayed in the promotional area at front of store. Waterstone’s have reordered over 900 extra copies to ensure greater visibility. This, coupled with the 3 for 2 offer, will increase sales, which continue to repeat well across the board. The Waterstone’s promotion started on 17 May and runs for one month. If sales are good, it will continue beyond mid-June.”
With John Reid musing about a State of Emergency to round up “suspects”, to virtually no media outcry, I think it is never more urgent to get over the naked and shocking truth about the “War on Terror”; the poor intelligence it is based on, the underlying agenda of its supporters, and the harsh machiavellianism of the government. I think, from readers’ reaction, that Murder in Samarkand gets that through to people’s hearts and minds, through a personal story, in a way that distinguished academic or journalistic surveys don’t always achieve. That is not to decry the other excellent books out there, particularly Moazzam Begg, Robert Fisk and Stephen Grey.