An audience with Amanda
06.08.08 | Anna Richardson
Cactus TV m.d. Amanda Ross gathered a group of publishers and retailers to the Cactus studios last week to unveil her grand plans for the "Richard & Judy" move to UKTV this autumn.
There had been much nail-biting and speculation since the move was announced last November over what it would mean for the duo's various book club strands and their boost to book sales.
Ross always maintained that the book club's success was "not about the ratings", and she certainly put a good case last week, backing her mantra with some BML figures.
According to the research, 41% of people buying R&J titles did so because they saw them in shops, i.e. stickered and displayed in all their R&J glory, and 23% quoted "recommendation" as the deciding factor.
In fiction as a whole, on the other hand, only 28% chose a title because of shop browsing and only 9% bought on recommendation. The majority (30%) said they had bought a title because they had read a previous one by the author, whereas only 5% of R&J buyers quoted that as the main reason, and only 6% of R&J titles were bought because they had been mentioned on TV.
Also, the new "Richard & Judy" chat show will be prime-time: a "shiny floor" flagship programme, the apple of a UKTV new entertainment channel's eye. It will be part of the big bang launch of Watch in October, flagged by high-profile poster-, print- and TV advertising campaigns. "It's a fresh, modern and exciting channel with books at its centre," said Ross
There will be three repeats for each "Richard & Judy" episode of the as-live show (which runs weekdays, Tuesday to Friday), and a possible deal with an Australian broadcaster. In addition, R&J will launch a brand new, monthly book club strand in partnership with the Daily Mail, alongside the existing Best Read and Summer Read strands, with an extended Christmas Books series also lined-up, so last week's bells and whistles presentation was certainly making all the right noises.
However, for now it is still a case of "wait and see". Yes, publishers should be getting their submissions in to the Cactus team (Amanda says, do NOT forget those synopses--not AI blurbs, but proper spoiler plots, from first page to last!), and retailers will be planning their R&J promotions and support; however, until that first UKTV R&J pick hits the charts, the jury is out.
Ross always says she has sleepless nights until the first of her selections find its spot in the top 10.
"We hope to make as seamless a transition as possible to our new home," she said at the start of the presentation. "We need you to continue to support us," she concluded.
Judging by the turn-out at Cactus HQ last week (publishing and retail's big wigs rather than small fry) that seems to be the plan in the trade for now.
For submissions details for the Daily Mail New Writers book club, click here.