Thursday, as all book lovers know, was a huge day for the publishing industry, what with the publication of the one book that most booksellers agree is going to top the charts this Christmas.
Not JK Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy from Little, Brown, but Jamie Oliver’s 15-Minute Meals from Michael Joseph, which was also published on the same day.
The next great face-off in the run-up to Christmas also happens with a simultaneous launch from rival publishers: on 8 November, heptathalon golden girl Jessica Ennis lines up in the memoir stakes against Bradley Wiggins, the only man to have won the Tour de France and an Olympic gold in the same year.
Who’s going to win that sales battle? It’s a tough one to call. Wiggo is so famous that in sign language for the deaf, all the signer has to do is to point to (usually imaginary) sideburns. But then again, who could possibly bet against Ennis? Certainly not Bookworm, especially as some of Wiggins’s many fans will already have bought John Deering’s Bradley Wiggins: Tour de Force, which is published next week by Birlinn at £12.99.
Thursday was also the launch day for The Quentin Blake Treasury, which Cape publish ahead of the great man’s 80th birthday in December. Blake, the illustrator best known for bringing Roald Dahl’s weird imagination to pictorial life, has done a lot more than that – indeed, the Dahl books add up to only 18 of the 323 he has illustrated (including 35 he wrote himself). Other authors he has worked with include Dr Seuss, Elizabeth Bowen and David Walliams. Along with his role as the only man able to keep Simon Cowell in line, Walliams is a fast-rising star in the world of children’s books: only last week his third children’s novel, Gangsta Granny, was shortlisted for the Roald Dahl Funny Prize – the third time in five years that he has made the cut.
50 SHADES OF PUBLICITY
Niall Leonard is also a children’s writer (well, young adult) with a book – Crusher – out this month. If you haven’t heard of him, you probably will have heard of his wife, EL James, whose books have sold even faster than JK Rowling’s. That link, he admits, doesn’t do his sales any harm. “Like most novelists, I’m hardly going to refuse publicity,” he says. “I’m not a masochist. And that’s all I am going to say about our sex life.”