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Why return of Rebus is Godsend for booksellers

After a five-year absence Detective Inspector John Rebus of Edinburgh CID returned to duty yesterday.

HE'S BACK: Ian Rankin signs copies of his new Rebus novel at Waterstone's in Kirkcaldy. The Rebus books were adapted for TV and starred Ken Scott as the music loving inspector.
HE'S BACK: Ian Rankin signs copies of his new Rebus novel at Waterstone's in Kirkcaldy. The Rebus books were adapted for TV and starred Ken Scott as the music loving inspector.

The ageing music lover who likes a drink (to put it mildly) made his comeback in Standing in Another Man's Grave, the first new Rebus novel since Exit Music in 2007. His creator Ian Rankin marked publication by signing copies at Waterstone's in Kirkcaldy.

The book is likely to be something of a Godsend for booksellers in the run-up to Christmas given the online competition.

"Increasingly the book trade is driven by big brands and it helps the trade when big brands come out with big books," Tom Tivnan, features editor of trade magazine The Bookseller, said. "A new Rebus book is a real boon for booksellers and the trade in general. He's one of the biggest selling authors of all time."

Rankin was last year named as the 18th most valuable author since records began, some way behind the likes of JK Rowling and Jamie Oliver, but still worth an impressive £48.7 million. And that was before the new Rebus appeared.

Mr Tivnan added: "In two weeks' time he'll be one of only 16 authors to have hit the £50m mark. The last two books with the Malcolm Fox character haven't done as well as Rebus but you'd expect that with a new character."

The new Rebus book is also a reminder that Rankin was one of the pioneers of Scottish crime fiction. While William McIlvanney beat him to the punch with his Laidlaw books in the late seventies and early eighties, the success of Rankin's books – which were adapted for TV not once but twice, with Ken Stott and John Hannah playing Rebus – proved that Scottish crime fiction could find an audience in Britain and the world.

Doug Johnstone, author of Hit and Run, said: "Ian is a simply brilliant writer, a very generous person and an all-round legend, frankly. With the Rebus books, he paved the way for a whole generation of writers.

"You'll learn more about life from one Rebus book than from 100 middle-class, dinner-party literary bore-a-thons."

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