TWiC #36: Week Ending 4th September
13.09.10 | Philip Stone
And so, Tony Blair's memoirs hit the shelves. And it went and sold 92,060 copies in just 96 hours—a rate of 16 copies per minute, if you'd prefer. In total, just over £1.2m was spent on the book across its first four days on sale last week, meaning that almost four pence in every quid spent on books last week went towards a copy of A Journey.
If you stacked up all 92,060 copies of the book into a single pile, it'd reach 2.5 miles into the air. And be an incredibly health and safety risk. And, one imagines, be covered in an awful lot of bird droppings — something which no doubt would delight many.
At Bookseller Towers, we ran a sweepstake first thing on Tuesday morning, a few hours before its final sales figures arrived into my inBox. Guesses ranged from around 21,000 to 125,000, but averaged around 40,000, while many betters confessed their opinion of ol' Tony perhaps got too much in the way of them making a sensible guesstimate.
Regardless of your opinions on the man, his memoir's 92,060 four-day sale is phenomenal. So phenomenal in fact, that it broke the record (held by David Beckham) for the biggest ever opening week sale of a memoir since book sales statisticians Nielsen BookScan's records began in 1998. It was significantly better than the previous record for a political memoir (held by Ali Campbell on 24,000), and significantly better than his wife Cherie's Speaking for Myself, which sold 3,900 in its first week.
But it is a shame, perhaps, that Blair stole the headlines, because the day after A Journey hit the shelves was one of the biggest in the 2010 publishing calendar. New works by the likes of Terry Pratchett, Sophie Kinsella, Nigella Lawson, Conn Iggulden, James Patterson, JLS (yeah, them), Dick Francis, Linwood Barclay, James May, Terry Brooks, Alex McCall Smith, Fiona Phillips (yes, her), Usain Bolt (yes, him), Tom Sharpe and William Gibson all hit the shelves.
Some sold well (all of the above). Some, not so much (Nicholas Parsons). Anyway, Lord knows how the UK's finest booksellers managed to find space for all those beauties on the shelves/tables and in the window displays. Well done to you all. Take a break—you all deserve it. But not for too long though — new books by the likes of Paul O'Grady, Jilly Cooper, Kenny Dalgleish, Carol Vorderman (yeah her), Chris Ryan, John le Carré, Madhur Jaffrey, Barry Humphries, Nigel Slater, Alan Titchmarsh, Clarissa Dickson Wright, Cathy Kelly, Charlie Higson and Jed Rubenfeld are to come.
And we've still Clarkson, Caine, Giggs, Brand, Child, Binchy, French, Minogue, Attenborough, Macintyre, Fry, Cole, Price, Parky, Richards, Boyle, Sugar, Pegg, Evans, Dench on the way.
Bookshop front of stores will be a maze of celebrity memoirs, I fear. Did you make it all the way to Stephen Fry? Nah, I got stuck down an alleyway with Justin ruddy Bieber.