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Home News European bookstores besieged by Gauls

European bookstores besieged by Gauls

Published on 17/10/2005

PARIS, Oct 14 (AFP) - Astérix and his band of Roman-bashing Gauls took European bookstores by storm on Friday in a new comic book adventure -- the 33rd in the series -- simultaneously distributed worldwide in 27 countries and in 13 languages.

With an initial run of eight million copies, ‘Asterix and the Falling Sky’ may well have broken the record for a first printing of any comic book ever published.

The 3.2 million copies distributed to bookstores in France even topped the release last month of that other pint-sized wizard of book sales, Harry Potter, whose most recent installment mustered a mere 1.2 million copies in French.

Whether sales will keep up with the frenzy of Friday’s release is another question.

Reactions to the uncharacteristically politicized story — featuring thinly veiled and unflattering allusions to US President George W Bush — has been mixed at best.

In Belgium, critic and cartoon expert Hugues Dayez said the album “completely goes against the spirit of Astérix and Obélix,” while another critic writing in the country’s largest daily newspaper opined that “all the jokes fall flat.”

A sales person in the German book chain Dussmann said that many readers “will not appreciate the appearance of a Superman. That is not the Astérix they know.”

The author, 78-year-old Albert Uderzo, said Friday that “it would be foolhardy to hazard a sale figure and to predict that Harry (Potter) had been beaten.”

“To each his own success,” he told France 2 television.

In Germany, where the feisty Gallic hero is wildly popular, the publisher, Egmont, predicted that the 2.5 million copies printed thus far “will sell easily.”

In Madrid, the manager of a FNAC bookstore said simply that the new volume “was selling very well.” For the Spanish market, 300,000 copies were printed in Spanish, and 50,000 in Catalan.

Only 100,000 copies hit the book stores in England, but the publisher insisted that this was only an initial run.

In Poland — where all Astérix books combined have sold 3.2 million copies — only 17,000 copies of the “Falling Sky” have been distributed.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news