Ten books that stand to be best-sellers this Christmas
TODAY, if you haven’t noticed already, is Super Thursday – the day on which publishers release their biggest, brightest hopes for Christmas bestsellerdom. What that emphatically doesn’t mean is that only today are they launching their very finest books – the ones that you or I would eagerly look forward to opening as a Christmas present.
Nor does it mean that only today will you find the books on which they have spent the most money – or which they are the most confident will top the bookcharts. Already, on 27 September, we have had another mini-Super Thursday, with the publication of JK Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy and Jamie Oliver’s 15-Minute Meals, almost universally expected to occupy the top two bestseller slots this Christmas.
Despite this, Super Thursday still does mean something – that if you go into a bookshop today, you’ll find a bigger selection of new blockbusters than at any other time of the year, with an estimated 220 hardbacks out this morning.
Publishers have always known that either the last week in September or the first full week in October is the best time to bring new titles to the market. Ideally, they would prefer to give their books the best chance by releasing them at a time when the competition is at its slackest, but in late September and early October, there is such a rush of titles that this becomes impossible.
They still try. At the Edinburgh Book Festival in August, Ian Rankin told his audience that the 27 September release of JK Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy had meant that his publishers were postponing publication of his new Rebus novel, Standing in Another Man’s Grave, until 8 November.
For Alexander McCall Smith’s next standalone novel, Trains and Lovers, published by Polygon on 1 November, it’s the same story. Neville Moir, Polygon’s publishing director, points out that avoiding the Super Thursday crowds is a deliberate strategy, just as it is for most other Scottish publishers.
“We avoid Super Thursday because we know we’re just going to get bombarded with London publishers’ best Christmas offers, “ he says. “That’s the reason we generally publish most in the spring and early summer.”
For London publishers with books expected to sell over 100,000 copies each by Christmas, however, it is hard to avoid there being one single day when a whole range of similar big-hitters is also brought to the market.
That day, The Bookseller decided four years ago, should be known as Super Thursday and for a while it tried to persuade publishers that they should make a virtue of it and release every last one of their main autumn titles on that day too.
“I’m changing my mind on that,” said the magazine’s editor Philip Jones yesterday. “In the past we have called for one great big trade marketing day, but maybe the slightly amateur way in which we do it makes some kind of sense after all.”
Perhaps he has a point. Because while the ten of the Super Thursday books listed right might appeal to some, I can think of any number of lists with better written books on it. The shortlist for next week’s Man Booker Prize is only one such, but there are plenty more: the backlist of whoever is chosen today as Nobel laureate, the longlist announced yesterday for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year, or – better still – the hugely impressive shortlist of this year’s Samuel Johnson Prize for the year’s best non-fiction book.
Alternatively, you can always do things the way we used to: no list, no trade promotion, not even a bestseller chart to guide you. Just wander into a bookshop, take your time, and make your own choices. Super Thursday or no Super Thursday, that’s what both publishers and booksellers would really want you to do.
LIVE BY NIGHT BY DENNIS LEHANE (LITTLE, BROWN)
• THE hard-boiled author of a series of critically acclaimed novels set in Boston – including Gone Baby Gone, which was made into a hit movie by Ben Affleck and Mystic River, directed by Clint Eastwood – Dennis Lehane has stretched himself in this sequel to his epic historical novel, The Given Day. Live By Night follows Joe Coughlin, a small-time thief who rises to become one of the most feared and respected gangsters in prohibition-era America.
SECONDS AWARD BY HARLAN COBEN (ORION)
• THE master of the labyrinthine plot and snappy one-liners returns with his second novel for young adults which follows Mickey Bolitar as he continues to hunt for clues about the mysterious death of his father, while also trying to negotiate the difficulties of settling into a new high school. For years Coben had a small but hardcore fanbase but recently his novels have become major bestsellers and, with one eye on the future, he is now reaching out to a new generation of readers.
A BLINK OF THE SCREEN: COLLECTED SHORT FICTION BY TERRY PRATCHETT (DOUBLEDAY)
• THE ‘embuggerance’ of Alzheimers, as Pratchett refers to his condition, has slowed the author down to one novel a year, an output most authors would envy, so his Christmas gift to his legion of fans is a volume collecting together all the short stories and from his early schooldays to the origins of his debut novel, The Carpet People. It promises to be an opportunity for fans to see the evolution of a comic genius of the fantasy realm.
ONE HUNDRED NAMES BY CECILIA AHERN (HARPERCOLLINS)
• THE crowned Queen of ‘chick lit’ is a title that passes between heads at a dizzy rate, but arguably the current contender is Cecilia Ahern, the daughter of the former Taoisech of Ireland, who has demonstrated an uncanny ability to seduce readers worldwide, first with her debut novel, PS I Love You. Her latest novel, One Hundred Names, tells the story of Kitty Logan, a journalist whose career has been ruined by scandal, as she seeks to complete her mentor’s last wish and write the story about a mysterious list of 100 names.
ROD: THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY BY ROD STEWART (CENTURY)
• PROBABLY too busy enjoying himself – or concentrating on making his hair defy gravity - for the past six decades, Rod has left the writing of his autobiography to the age of 67. He must feel he has a story to tell, because with an estimated personal fortune of $115m, he hardly needs the money. Although hugely successful as a singer, Rod’s personality can divide opinion, but extracts from his book have told a rollicking rock ‘n roll story. Not so eagerly awaited: Rod’s imminent first Christmas album.
DAVID MITCHELL: BACK STORY BY DAVID MITCHELL (HARPERCOLLINS)
• NOT to be confused with the English novelist of the same name, who has twice been shortlisted for the Booker Prize. Instead, this David Mitchell is the actor and comedian, best known for his role in comedy duo Mitchell and Webb who star in Channel 4’s sitcom Peep Show. Mitchell’s first book is a personal memoir but his deal with HarperCollins is also for a novel, scheduled for publication next year.
THE BAT BY JO NESBO (HARVILL SECKER)
• THE appetite for Scandinavian crime remains voluminous, and the success of Norwegian author Jo Nesbo’s standalone thrillers, Headhunters and The Snowman, have prompted his British publishers to release the first in a series of crime novels featuring the detective Harry Hole. In The Bat he travels to Australia to investigate the murder of a Norwegian girl during her gap year in Sydney.
CAMP DAVID: THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY BY DAVID WALLIAMS (MICHAEL JOSEPH)
• THE comedian’s life story has already made headlines over its account of battles with depression and attempts to take his own life. The star of Little Britain also delves into his own sexuality, as the title might suggest. “I’m really camp and I always have been,” declares Walliams, who married model Lara Stone two years ago. This is not Walliams’ first venture into print: last month, his fifth novel for children was published.
MADHUR JAFFREY’S CURRY NATION BY MADHUR JAFFREY (EBURY PRESS)
• AS ubiquitous as the celebrity memoir, tinsel-wrapped under the Christmas tree, is the cookery book. A welcome change from Nigella, Gordon or Jamie is Madhur, whose latest book accompanies her new series on the Good Food Channel in which she tours Britain sampling the myriad of different Indian dishes to be found. It is hoped that there will be room for the Chicken Tikka Masala which, according to claims, was born in Glasgow, a city renowned for its great taste.
WHO I AM BY PETE TOWNSHEND (HARPERCOLLINS)
• IF you don’t get the significance of the title, this one’s not for you. The guitarist and songwriter with The Who has written over 100 songs, including hits such as Who Are You? He has found reason to answer that question in great detail as he attempts to rebuild his reputation following five years on the sex offenders’ register for accessing a website advertising child pornography in the name of research. “What I did was insane,” he admits in this autobiography, which was first planned in 1997 but was somewhat delayed. Beyond an attempt to rebuild his reputation, there is a fascinating account of a life lived hard and fast.
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Thursday 20 June 2013
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