Richard and Judy and other sales figures

Amanda Ross, the producer of the Richard & Judy book club, recently "axed" from digital TV, is looking for a new home - on terrestrial TV if publishers and booksellers have their way. Wayne Brookes, publishing director at HarperCollins told the Bookseller: "For it to work, you need it on digital television, with great viewing figures and a loyalty among viewers that have a belief in what the presenters are telling them." While, according to the Bookseller, "the sale of millions of books hangs in the balance", we can perhaps take comfort in the fact that her brother-in-law, Jonathan Ross, has started a Twitter book club for the 140-character-minded among us.
Amanda Ross confirms that another six-week Crime Thriller Season is lined up for UK's ITV3 this autumn, after the success of last year's series, won by Stieg Larsson's posthumous The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I don't know which titles are on this year's shortlist, so perhaps they have not been selected yet.
Not only has 'Richard and Judy' resulted in 30.3 million books being sold for £180.4 million (discounts included), but the club has had a huge impact on the selected authors' backlists. Simon Kernick, for example, was selling on average 259 copies per week of his four titles before 2007, when Relentless was chosen as one of R&J's Summer Reads. According to Nielsen BookScan, his average weekly sales were 9,000 last year and, with total sales of more than one million, is said to be "one of Bantam's reliable book-a-year brands".
Another crime-fiction author, Sheila Quigley, has recently switched from Random House to Tonto, a small independent publisher. According to the Bookseller, she was offered £300,000 for a two-book deal in 2003 for her first two novels. Although her debut novel Run for Home sold more than 50,000 copies, her most recent novel, Every Breath You Take, has sold 8,300 (again, via Nielsen BookScan).
While on the topic of sales, you may have noticed that Dan Brown's Angels and Demons has finally made number one on the charts in the UK, eight years after publication, and courtesy of the film tie-in edition. The original, published in 2001 by Transworld for £5.99 in the UK, was selling "barely more than 20 copies per week" until 2004, when the mass-market edition of The Da Vinci Code was released. (The film tie-in of Angels and Demons sold 37,600 in the UK last week.) J. K. Rowling has UK sales totalling £225.3 million, but "none of the Harry Potter titles comes close to matching the 5.16 million lifetime sales of The Da Vinci Code" (£61.4 million in the UK).

2 thoughts on “Richard and Judy and other sales figures

  1. I am conflicted about these kinds of book clubs. On the one hand I like anything that promotes people reading and on the other I get annoyed that so many ‘sheep’ just read what they’re told to without taking the effort to search out some lesser known authors of their own. And I am always suspicious of how they books that are chosen get on the list.

  2. I agree, Bernadette. I used to be quite naive about these things, but now I know, for example, that publishers have to pay to get onto prize lists or bookstore offers.

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