Libraries have long been frustrated by having to stick to on-sale dates. The issue is now entering public consiousness, with the controversy over David Foster Wallace’s highly-anticipated final novel, The Pale King, scheduled for publication on April 15 (Little, Brown’s countdown clock is shown at the left; stopped at the time we posted it).

[UPDATE: the on-sale date is not the issue in this case. While The Pale King‘s publication date is 4/15, when the promotion was scheduled to begin, the on-sale date was actually 3/22. That may be a moot point, however, since many stores and libraries have not yet received their copies].

Amazon and B& released the book early, angering bricks and mortar stores, several of whom had midnight parties scheduled for 4/14, and making headlines in the NYT.

Adding insult to injury, reviews are also arriving early. Time magazine’s Lev Grossman calls it his “finest work.” The NYT‘s Michiko Kakutani says today that it’s “By turns breathtakingly brilliant and stupefying dull…”

The book has already risen to #10 on Amazon’s sales rankings.

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