Commissioning editors say they are looking for books with an "unmissable pitch" to stand out in the tough climate of 2012.
New takes on familiar stories and books that help people lose themselves and forget their worries are also on editors' current wishlists, according to interviews posted on the Andrew Lownie Literary Agency website.
Michael Joseph editor Dan Bunyard said he was looking for commercial non-fiction with "that immediate 'one line pitch' quality to it, or at least the potential to be pitched in a simple, powerful way. In a tough market with people buying fewer books, I think that ideas and books that carry this with them stand out," he said.
Louise Haines, head of non-fiction at Fourth Estate, said books needed to be "stand-out" in a challenging market. Philip Gwyn Jones, executive publisher at Granta Books and Portobello Books, said: "More than ever in these changeable times, for me prospective books for our two imprints...need to be utterly compelling to be worth publishing."
John Murray m.d. Roland Philipps said he was looking for engaging storytelling that would take readers "away from what I expect to be a gloomy news year." Penguin Press editorial director Georgina Laycock agreed: "As the news from the world becomes darker and more apocalyptic, people need hobbies and enthusiasms, to play more games and make more music, to create things and learn to fix them. I want to publish the books that inspire them to do so," she said.
Myles Archibald, associate publisher at HarperCollins, noted it was "striking how stories that seem to have waned from people's memories can have a massive resurgence", predicting that "perhaps new takes on old stories" might feature in his 2012 buys.
Publishers also predicted increasingly innovative digital publishing and boosts from the Olympics and Diamond Jubilee in the year ahead.