Prince Harry’s memoir sold more than 1.4 million copies in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. on its first day, a performance that publisher Penguin Random House said was the largest first-day sales total for any nonfiction book it ever published.
The first day sales totals for “Spare” included preorders as well as sales of print books, digital books and audiobooks, Penguin Random House, a unit of Bertelsmann SE, said Wednesday. The publisher said it printed 2 million hardcover copies of “Spare” for the U.S., and that it has gone back to press.
The Prince Harry book, which was officially released Tuesday—but last week mistakenly went on sale in Spain and was leaked to a British newspaper—details his deepening divisions with his brother, Prince William, and other members of the royal family.
Demand for “Spare” has been so strong that Barnes & Noble, the largest bookstore chain in the U.S., said Tuesday the memoir “looks certain to set record-breaking day-one sales” at the bookseller and “is expected to be one of the biggest books of 2023.”
“The leaking of extracts has only heightened the frenzy,” said Shannon DeVito, Barnes & Noble’s director of books. The retailer is owned by hedge fund Elliott Management Corp.
The sale numbers released by Penguin Random House Wednesday include the U.K. The publisher said that excluding the U.K., “Spare” sold more than 900,000 copies on its first day in the U.S. and Canada.
Recent bestselling nonfiction books include Mary L. Trump’s tell-all book about then-President Trump and former first lady Michelle Obama’s memoir.
Ms. Trump’s “Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man,” sold more than 950,000 copies in all formats during its first day on sale in July 2020 in the U.S., according to its publisher, Paramount Global’s Simon & Schuster, which at the time said the results represented “a company record.”
Mrs. Obama’s “Becoming,” published in 2018 by Penguin Random House’s Crown imprint, sold more than 725,000 units in all formats across the U.S. and Canada on its first day of publication, according to the publisher. In 2019, the chief executive of Penguin Random House’s parent said the book “could be the most successful memoir in history.”
Prince Harry’s memoir currently ranks No. 1 on Barnes & Noble’s online bestseller list and No. 1 on Amazon.com Inc.’s list. Barnes & Noble’s online store is offering a 30% discount on the hardcover’s $36 retail price while Amazon is offering a 38% discount.
The release of “Spare” is the culmination of several years of drama involving Prince Harry and the royal family. Tensions surrounding the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s 2020 decision to step back from royal duties have been well documented, including in the couple’s late 2022 docuseries for Netflix Inc. as well as their 2021 interview with Oprah Winfrey.
Prince Harry’s “60 Minutes” Anderson Cooper interview, which aired on Sunday evening, attracted 11.2 million total viewers, the show’s best audience this season, CBS said.
In his book, Prince Harry also targets the British media, which he says attacked Meghan Markle, his wife, almost without respite. He also discusses his continuing anguish regarding the death of his mother, Princess Diana, in a car crash in 1997.
“Tormenting Meghan Markle has become a national sport that shames us, said a headline in The Guardian,” he writes. “So true. But no one was shamed, that was the problem. No one was feeling the slightest pang of conscience. Would they finally feel some if they caused a divorce? Or would it take another death?”
Buckingham Palace hasn’t commented publicly.
One independent retailer said Tuesday afternoon that it was already out of stock of the book. “We may have underestimated demand, but I also think one of our boxes wound up in supply chain limbo,” said Matthew Norcross, co-owner of McLean & Eakin Booksellers in Petoskey, Mich. “We currently don’t have any on the shelf, but we’re taking orders for the next shipment.”
Gayle Shanks, co-owner of the Changing Hands Bookstore, which has branches in Phoenix and Tempe, Ariz., said the two stores together sold 17 copies on Tuesday, most of which were preorders.
“Pretty much what we expected,” she said. “Not a huge amount of buzz, according to my buyer.”