Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Autumn paperback preview by marketing man

In the Autumn Paperback Preview which came with the 1 June 2007 issue of The Bookseller, Paul Henderson selected "the best paperbacks from the publishers' lists for July to December."

In an introductory piece, he wrote, "My choices are driven by volume, so apologies to the smaller publishers that [sic] have sent me material and books, but which I really don't believe will deliver the sales to take them into the higher sales echelon."

Alongside this was a photo of Paul "who has worked in the book trade in a variety of roles since 1983. He was marketing director of Ottaker's from 1999 to 2005, and is now m.d. of Leading Edge UK. He was World Book Day chair in 2003 and has served on the BA Council. He lives in Wiltshire with Fiona."

The books he has chosen are arranged in four categories.
Giants 100,000+ sales
Bestsellers 50,000+ sales
Bubbling Under 30,000+ sales

A name which caught my eye was Elizabeth Buchan whose novel, The Second Wife, Mr Henderson places first on his list of August Giants.

His comment on it is – "Although not a prolific writer, Buchan's last two books, Revenge of the Middle-Aged Woman and The Good Wife, both sold extremely well. Penguin will therefore be working hard to remind readers who she is with a targeted campaign.

Having read a couple of Mrs Buchan's books, I don't need reminding who she is, and I'm puzzled by his reference to her as "not a prolific writer."

Since 2000 she has published eight books which seems a more than satisfactory output for a quality novelist.

But Mr Henderson is a marketing person and, in my observation, they go for quantity rather than quality. Maybe it was "Fiona" who influenced him to give Elizabeth Buchan precedence over the other authors – including the super-prolific Danielle Steel – he includes in his August list.

A Seventies passion that died

Four annual reports of the Jane Austen Society [1972-1975] and 35 books by or about Jane Austen, housed on the top shelf of a former-cupboard-now-a-bookcase in our bedroom, are evidence of my once passionate enthusiasm for JA.

But it's possible to overdose on favourite authors. I did with Jane Austen. Now I watch the attempts to package her for the chick-lit market with cynical disdain.

Marina Lewycka, see photo, author of A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian, was writing about JA in The Times on Monday.

Extract : "So what is it that comic woman writers such as Jane Austen and Sue Townsend have, which their contemporaries such as William Thackeray and Douglas Adams don’t have? I was tempted to say that the special characteristic of female humour is kindness – we smile with Austen and Townsend, we don’t sneer. Then again, Nick Hornby is unfailingly kind to his hapless characters, while that famous female wit, Dorothy Parker, is very sneery."


At 05 June, 2007, Blogger Lorna said...

Thanks for your explanation about Past Forgetting, Anne. I think that corporatization (if that's a word) of the arts has done a lot of harm, not only in writing, but also in the news media.

It's been a long time since I have read a new novel, mostly because whenever I have picked one up in a bookstore, I end up putting it back on the shelf after reading a few pages. Most of them just do not appeal to me.

Sacramento, CA

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