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).

Italian code or Greek cipher?

Link: Success at last for writer who defied 50 rejections – Newspaper Edition – Times Online.

"It cost him his flat and four years of unemployment, but all he had to show for his struggle to write a bestselling first novel were more than 50 rejection letters from agents and publishers". So starts the heartwarming tale in the Times on Monday of how William Petre has had his book "snapped up" by HarperCollins in Britain for £165,000, with Sony and "other Hollywood studios pursuing the film rights".

Most of the story focuses on the familiar tale of the lonely, dedicated author, giving up the day job and gradually becoming more impoverished until he got his big break. He worked on improving his book, a historical novel inspired by a visit to Egypt, for 4 years, submitting it under various names so that publishers would not remember him from last time.

One day, Petre got a phone call "out of the blue" from literary agent Luigi Bonomi, who had "unearthed the novel from the hundreds of unsolicited manuscripts that arrive at his office each week" and was "bowled over by it" (these cliches really are all in the story, such are the standards of journalism these days). Once the agent had taken it on, he quickly sold the book to HarperCollins.

Well, good luck to Petre. But although I don’t doubt the facts of the story as far as publishing the book goes, I am suspicious. The title of the book? "The Alexander Cipher". The extract provided by the Times to accompany the story? Mediocre and unoriginal, to be generous. Hollywood studios being interested? Easy to claim.

Is this story essentially a clever piece of marketing by a canny agent, aided by the fact that the newspaper and book publisher share an owner? I would never have had this mean thought if it were not for the title of the book and the dull extract.