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'Super Thursday' set for late September
03.06.11 | Benedicte Page, Philip Stone and Lisa Campbell
Retailers are enthusiastic about a "strong" autumn, with Jason Manford, James Corden, Jamie Oliver, Steve Coogan and Paul Gascoigne among the celebrities and chefs whose books make up the Christmas staple. A potential Super Thursday is emerging on the 29th September, with 13th October another jam-packed date.
However, publishers said they have little control over publication dates for some of their biggest titles because of external factors such as worldwide publication and TV scheduling, leading to some potential internal clashes.
HarperCollins will put Coogan up against Frankie Boyle on 13th October, while Orion will have Linwood Barclay going head-to-head with Colin Montgomerie on 29th September. Jasper Sutcliffe, senior buyer at Foyles, said: "It's going to be a fantastic autumn with really strong titles across the board, from fiction to biographies to children's." Super Thursday, he added, "generates widespread reader interest, and raises the profile of ooks in general which is always incredibly important".
Waterstone's predicted big things of comedians James Corden and Steve Coogan, Jamie Oliver's Jamie's Great Britain and Heston at Home by Heston Blumenthal, as well as new novels from Jeffrey Eugenides, Stephen King, and Haruki Murakami's long-awaited IQ24.
Claire Tomalin's biography of Dickens and Sue Johnston's Things I Couldn't Tell My Mother were also picked out as likely winners in the autumn schedule.
Penguin m.d. Tom Weldon said the publisher's two big dates are 29th September, with the new Jamie Oliver title and Lee Evans' autobiography, and 13th October with books from Rob Brydon and Jeremy Clarkson.
But Penguin "didn't have a choice" over its big publication dates, he said, because they were dictated by external events such as a new TV series for Oliver and Evans' autumn tour.
Little, Brown publisher David Shelley concurred, saying publication of the publisher's biggest Christmas titles—Billy Connolly's Route 66 and Mark McCrum's Walking with the Wounded—are to be confirmed, because they tie in with TV programmes. "The TV companies tend to schedule much less in advance. We are working closely with retailers and keeping them posted," he said.
Shelley was sceptical about Super Thursday, saying: "It seems to be more talked-about in the book trade and the book trade press than in society at large."
Simon and Schuster executive director Kerr MacRae said all press round-ups of books were helpful, but media coverage of Super Thursday tended to come too early. "The Christmas round-ups in the first week of December are much more useful," he said.
Super Thursday (29th September)*
Joanna Lumley Absolutely: A Memoir (Weidenfeld)
Linwood Barclay The Accident (Orion)
Lee Child The Affair (Bantam Press)
Jason Manford's autobiography (Ebury Press)
Johnny Vegas Becoming Johnny Vegas (HarperCollins)
Bernard Cornwell Death of Kings (HarperCollins)
Robert Harris The Fear Index (Hutchinson)
Mitchell & Webb Great Britons' Days Out: 2011 (Fourth Estate)
David Starkey Henry: Model of a Tyrant (HarperPress)
Jamie Oliver Jamie's Great Britain (Michael Joseph)
Chris Ryan Killing for the Company (Coronet)
Lee Evans The Life of Lee (Michael Joseph)
Colin Montgomerie Monty (Orion)
Sir Ranulph Fiennes My Heroes (Hodder & Stoughton)
Paul Scholes Paul Scholes: My Story (Simon & Schuster)
Martha Swift The Primrose Bakery Book (Square Peg)
Louie Spence Still Got it, Never Lost it (HarperCollins)
James Corden's untitled memoir (Century)
J. R. R. Tolkien Mr Bliss (HarperCollins)
Second Wave: 13th October*
Nicholas Sparks The Best of Me (Sphere)
Julian Clary Briefs Encountered (Ebury Press)
Tess Daly The Camera Never Lies (Coronet)
Martina Cole The Faithless (Headline)
Paul Gascoigne Glorious: My World, Football and Me (Simon & Schuster)
Graeme Swann The Breaks are Off (Hodder & Stoughton)
Clarissa Dickson Wright A History of English Food (Random House)
Danielle Steel Hotel Vendome ((Bantam Press)
Alan Partridge I, Partridge: We Need to Talk About Alan (HarperCollins)
The Hairy Bikers' Perfect Pies (Weidenfeld)
Eric Van Lustbader Robert Ludlum's The Ares Decision (Orion)
Rob Brydon Small Man in a Book (Michael Joseph)
Terry Pratchett Snuff (Doubleday)
Andy McNab Spoken from the Front 2 (Bantam Press)
Rufus Hound Stand-Up Put-Downs (Bantam Press)
Cecelia Ahern The Time of My Life (HarperCollins)
Whitstable Mum in Custard Shortage (Penguin)
Irene Nemirovsky The Wine of Solitude (Chatto)
Frankie Boyle Work! Consume! Die! (HarperCollins)
*Selection of titles published on specific day according to Nielsen BookData information. Publication dates subject to change/cancellation