Are copies of "The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner: An Eclipse Novella" by Stephenie Meyer, released just this weekend, failing to sell like vampiric hot cakes? According to ShelfAwareness, a newsletter aimed at the independent bookstore community, "Anecdotal evidence pointed to slow sales in [independent bookstores] of the book, particularly compared to the 'Twilight' series from which it was spun off."
Of course, perhaps that should come as no surprise. Given that the four "Twilight" teen vampire novels have now sold more than 100 million copies worldwide since 2005, it would be fair to say that most books sell more slowly.
And sales of the new novella may also be affected by the fact that Meyer, as a gift to her fans, is making "Bree" available free of charge at breetanner.com, from June 7 to July 5.
Meanwhile, however, the earliest readers seem to be giving the book thumbs-up signs. "Twilight fans, meet Bree Tanner," enthuses USA Today. "She's a vampire you won't soon forget." The Washington Post is a bit more coy about offering its approval. A review by Monica Hesse calls "Bree Tanner" a "benevolent gift to fans, the surprise french fry discovered in the bottom of Stephenie Meyer's vampiric junk-food bag." Hesse then pauses mid-review to ask, "Is it good?" and then backs away from critical judgment by replying, "Oh, come now. The satisfaction of 'Twilight' novels cannot be measured by such terms as 'good' and 'bad.' "
Hesse is right about one thing, however. "[A]ll fans will read ['Bree Tanner'] and all haters will skip regardless of the reviews."
This is especially true given the book's timing. On June 30, the film version of "Eclipse" will be hitting movie theaters. "Twilight" fans are unlikely to ignore Meyer's recommendation that they read "Bree Tanner" before they see the movie.
Marjorie Kehe is the Monitor's book editor.