A NUMBER of Scottish bookshops have reported a surge in sales of Alasdair Gray’s Poor Things novel following the film adaptation’s release.

Directed by Oscar-nominee Yorgos Lanthimos, the film has so far been met with critical acclaim, having scooped two Golden Globes earlier this month, and is predicted to pick up some Oscar nominations. 

Based on Gray’s 1992 novel, it tells the story of Bella Baxter (Emma Stone) who is brought back to life by Dr Godwin Baxter (Willem Dafoe) before she runs off on an adventure across the continents with lawyer Duncan Wedderburn (Mark Ruffalo).

‘Seeing huge interest’

James Chesley, the manager of Topping & Company Booksellers in St Andrews said the shop had been seeing interest in the work “for a while now".

READ MORE: Poor Things: What I thought of the film as an Alasdair Gray fanatic

“We have two editions – the original with all of Alasdair’s drawings and then the film tie-in book as well which has a picture of Emma Stone on the front but even with that they’ve both been doing fantastically well,” he told The National.

“Since September of last year we really noticed quite a spike in terms of people picking up the book.”

The film hasn’t been without controversy, with many left disappointed at the absence of Glasgow while others weren’t keen on the release of a version of the novel without Gray’s original illustration on the cover.

But Chesley points out that he doesn’t feel this has really put people off buying that particular edition.

“Sometimes film tie-in books don’t always work the best but there are some which do and I think with this it’s because it’s a very creative film and the cover really reflects that,” he said.  

“It’s not that obvious, it doesn’t necessarily look like a normal film tie-in book.”

Edinburgh bookshops

The National also spoke with Toping & Company’s Edinburgh store, which likewise reported a similar increase in interest.

Bookseller Rachel Gillespie told The National: “We also have the original artwork and that used to sell about one copy every month. Now I’d say we’re up to between 10 and 25. The version with the film cover has sold around 20 every month since it came out in September.”

Elsewhere, Marie Moser, who runs The Edinburgh Bookshop in Bruntsfield, said that adaptations naturally lend to greater interest.

READ MORE: Emmy Awards: Succession wins big at delayed ceremony

“When you get a movie like that people hear about the book and it turns into something bigger,” she said.

“For us, this one has been steady. I think short-term the publishers have struggled to keep up because we actually couldn’t get in any copies last week.

“There has been an update in people wanting it though and I suppose what one hopes is that it will get people more interested in Alasdair in general.”

She points out however that the fact her shop is struggling to access copies is a good thing as it shows other shops are clearly needing them.

The National: Emma Stone stars in Poor ThingsEmma Stone plays Bella Baxter in the adaptation of Poor Things

“It’s not just us because they’re struggling to keep up which means other people are selling copies. We’re maybe going through three or four copies a week but that’s everybody who is doing that.”

Archive reaction

The National also reached out to the Alasdair Gray Archive (AGA), based in The Whisky Bond in Glasgow, to get their reaction to the interest in Gray’s work.

Sorcha Dallas (below), the custodian of the archive, told The National: “The archive is delighted that the release of the Poor Things film has brought more readers to Alasdair Gray’s seminal text that inspired it.

The National: Image Credit: Alan Dimmick

“We hope these readers will discover how central Glasgow was to it, and through the new digital guide AGA has created.”

Speaking to Little White Lies, Lanthimos addressed the controversy surrounding the decision to move the setting away from Glasgow.

He pointed out that Dafoe’s character does speak with a Scottish accent and that Gray was a “great inspiration” for the actor.

“In the novel, the Scottish issue feels like a different part of the book, and I felt it would just be like trying to make two different films if I tried to put it into this version of the story,” he said.

“Once we decided that the point of view of the film was going to be Bella’s, and it was going to be her story and her journey, and working with an American cast, it just made more sense to contract things.”

The digital guide to Poor Things, created by the AGA, can be found HERE.