Connery loses licence to thrill as book flops
IT WAS billed as the Scottish publishing event of the decade, but Sir Sean Connery's book of musings on the nation has fallen flatter than a badly shaken Martini.
Scotland on Sunday can reveal that the Bond star's book Being A Scot has sold a "dire" 5,000 copies in the UK, despite receiving saturation coverage in the press and taking top billing at the Edinburgh International Book Festival.
Worse still, the most famous living Scot looks set to suffer the indignity of being comprehensively outgunned in sales by Roger Moore, who succeeded him in the role of 007 and released his own autobiography last week.
It has also emerged that Connery's book was last week being outsold by an astonishing 14-to-one by the decidedly unglamorous memoirs of TV chef Clarissa Dickson Wright.
Literary data experts Nielsen BookScan confirmed that total sales of the tome were 4,620 last Friday and had dwindled to fewer than 500 copies a week.
But Two Fat Ladies' star Dickson Wright's autobiography, Spilling The Beans, which was released last year, sold 6,800 copies last week alone, taking her overall sales total to 140,000.
The Hollywood A-lister is also running neck-and-neck in sales with a low-key collection of childhood tales penned by fellow actor Bill Paterson. Paterson's book, Tales From The Back Green, which was also published in August, has sold 4,207 copies.
Despite this, a spokesman for Connery said he was "delighted" with the way Being A Scot had been received.
Connery's book, which was co-written with film-maker Murray Grigor, features childhood reminiscences and comment about Scottish culture and politics and avoids insights into his private life and film career.
A spokesman for publishers Michael O'Mara, who released Moore's book, My Word Is My Bond, on Thursday, laughed out loud when he heard Connery's sales figures and said he was "very confident" Moore's title would outsell Being A Scot.
Graham Rye, the editor of the James Bond magazine, 007, made a similar prediction."Roger Moore's book will ultimately sell more than Sean's because it is a more accessible read and is full of fun and amusing showbusiness anecdotes.
"Sean's book is far more highbrow and educational. It was a very honourable idea, but I don't know if it was a particularly marketable idea.
"The general book-buying public were after an intimate biography about Sean Connery the man.
"If he had produced that sort of book then I'm sure it would have flown off the shelves."
Rye added that he was disappointed by "unforgivable" picture caption errors in Being A Scot. A picture of Connery in the 1970s sci-fi epic Zardoz is billed as an early James Bond shot and a family outing to see a Nat King Cole film in 1951 is wrongly labelled as an Edinburgh premiere of From Russia With Love.
One publishing industry insider said: "Connery's sales are absolutely abysmal.
"To put this into some sort of perspective, the book which was 50th in the UK book chart sold 5,298 copies last week.
"Ian Rankin's latest book has sold 130,000 copies, while Cliff Richard's autobiography sold 14,660 in a single week.
A spokesman for Borders bookshop in Glasgow said it had sold around 60 copies of Connery's hardback, whose 20 price has been reduced to 17, compared with 150 12.99 copies of Paterson's tome.
Waterstone's in Edinburgh said the two books were "on a par", but predicted that sales of Being A Scot would increase in the run-up to Christmas.
Alan Samson of Weidenfeld & Nicolson, which published Connery's book, said: "We are very pleased with the quality of the book and how it has been received, as is Sir Sean."
He pointed out the title had reached number two in the Scottish titles' bestseller list behind a re-release of the Robert Louis Stevenson classic The Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll And Mr Hyde.
It is believed that the book had a large print run of tens of thousands.
It is expected that unless sales improve dramatically the rest of the stock will be "remaindered", or sold at greatly reduced prices, or it might even face the indignity of being pulped.
Connery promoted the book on his 78th birthday during a rare public appearance in his home city in August.
In the book, Connery and Grigor examine Scotland's contribution to sports, the gothic aspects of Scots literature and the origins of the "Scottish cringe".
The Scottish author Meg Henderson had originally been chosen to pen Connery's memoirs, but the actor pulled out of the agreement suddenly in 2003.
Henderson said the poor sales would come as a bitter blow to him. "Sean will take this very badly."
But Henderson insisted she took no pleasure from seeing the book, which was serialised in a London-based newspaper, flop.
"I really feel very sorry for Sean and for Murray, who did as much as he could. But this was not the book that the public wanted from Sean.
"If he had opened up and told all about his life, both the good times and the bad, then he could have had a genuine international best-seller."
"But he ended up doing a strange, scaredy-cat book, hoping that no-one would push any further about his life."
Biographies bound for the bargain bins
Former Home Secretary David Blunkett signed a 400,000 deal for his memoirs, but a lack of revelations led to disastrous sales of fewer than 4,000 copies.
Troubled celebrity Michael Barrymore collected 300,000 for his candid biography Awight Now, but sold just 5,000 copies.
Actor Rupert Everett sold a more respectable 20,000 copies, but it proved to be a meagre return for his rumoured 1m advance.
A book by Celebrity Big Brother winner Chantelle Houghton was tipped to emulate the success of Katie Price's Being Jordan, but was soon dispatched to store bargain bins around the country.
Soccer star Ashley Cole netted a quarter of a million pounds for My Defence but sold only 4,000 copies.
John Prescott hit the headlines when his biography revealed his battle with bulimia, but it failed to boost sales above the low thousands.
But spare a thought for former First Minister Henry McLeish whose memoirs, Truth And Consequences, sold just 100 copies, despite being serialised in a newspaper in a deal worth 40,000.
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Wednesday 19 June 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 16 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 12 C to 20 C
Wind Speed: 8 mph
Wind direction: East