A new TV series based on The Handmaid's Tale novel hit Hulu this week.
If you haven't read the acclaimed 1985 novel (which, fun fact, has apparently never been out of print) and want to catch up before bringing the show ... you might just have to buy it.
Many libraries in Minnesota are all checked out of the Margaret Atwood novel in advance of the show's premiere. And with hold after hold request lined up after the book gets checked back in, even with libraries ordering extra copies ahead of the demand.
"Many people want to read the book before watching the movie, so we ordered extra copies of Margaret Atwood’s novel in anticipation of the show's release," said Duluth Public Library spokesperson Jocelyn Baker.
The library has four copies of the novel, all checked out, with 13 holds.
The Handmaid's Tale is about a closed-off totalitarian community that springs up in the United States following a series of crises. The TV show stars Elisabeth Moss (Peggy from Mad Men) as the main character, Offred. Recent demand for the book has been high across America, with New York, Chicago, and San Francisco libraries completely booked, the Huffington Post reported.
Like Duluth, Ramsey County libraries ordered extra copies – and way back in February. And they're all checked out, with 43 additional requests.
"We kind of figured that would happen," Mary Moran, a reference librarian at Roseville Library, told GoMN, adding they usually pay attention to film or TV adaptation release dates since they know demand will spike.
"A lot of people want to read this stuff because they get inspired by watching the movie or the TV show or whatever, but they don't necessarily really want to go buy it and have it forever," she said. "So it's a nice thing to be able to get it from us."
Hennepin County Library meanwhile, which includes 41 libraries serving 1.2 million people, has 128 physical copies of the book – all of which are claimed, and have a total of 388 holds on them. And the ebook version has 389 holds on 49 copies.
Gail Mueller Schultz, manager for collection and technical services at Hennepin County Library, said the "great demand" they are seeing isn't abnormal when a book has a TV show or movie coming along.
"The buzz is also happening by word of mouth," she said. "A lot of people are talking about women’s rights, highlighting titles like The Handmaid’s Tale, and dystopian fiction, such as George Orwell’s 1984."
So what to do in the meantime ...
You've got a few options. You can just buy the book – it's pretty easy to locate a used copy for a cheap price, considering it's 30 years old.
You could jump on the wait list and read something else in the meantime. Use a recommendation tool to find something related – the Hennepin and Ramsey county libraries have something built-in online, or try a site like GoodReads.
Or just plow ahead and watch the TV series. Hulu put out the first three episodes Wednesday, and will release one a week this first season. And if you have any concerns about the adaptation, it's getting widely excellent reviews.