HarperCollins is the first publisher to rush out a book celebrating England’s “Young Lions”, announced hours after the team crashed out of the Fifa World Cup after a heart-breaking defeat to Croatia in extra time last night (11th July).
England’s Heroes: A Tribute to our Young Lions is set to be published just next month on 9th August as a hardback.
HarperNonFiction’s publishing strategy director Oli Malcolm acquired world rights to the “celebration of the incredible triumphs of the Three Lions squad, the highs and the lows, and a tournament that has united the country” as part of an “exclusive” News UK publishing partnership with the Sun.
Written by the Sun team, the book will span the journey from Southgate’s surprise appointment, a difficult qualifying campaign and public concern about inexperienced players, to the emergence of a world-class team which surpassed everyone’s expectations to reach the World Cup semi-final. It will feature new biographies of the entire squad and manager, full-length match reports, including the shoot-out victory against Colombia and aims to “put to bed years of hurt” acting as “a souvenir and memento of our greatest World Cup performance for almost three decades”.
“The book will be a celebration of and fantastic tribute to the extraordinary achievements of Gareth Southgate, Harry Kane and the young lions that are representing us so proudly in Russia,” a HarperNonFiction spokesperson said.
The announcement was made as England fans try and pick themselves up this morning from a devastating defeat to Croatia in Moscow last night after Mario Mandzukic scored the winning goal in the 109th to make the final score 2-1.
Spend £20 with us via Twitter/Facebook before the end of #ENGCRO & we’ll give one of these books to the school of your choice. #orderwhatyoulike #messageus #OrDMus #JordanPickfordisamazing #FootballsComingHome pic.twitter.com/fOxq766Osu— YellowLightedBkshop (@YLBookshop) July 10, 2018
Although the team just fell short of making the final, bookshops have said England’s best World Cup run in 28 years had helped to boost high street sales while the sun shone.
The Big Green Bookshop’s Simon Key said high streets and bookshops had benefitted from England’s steady romp through to the semi-final even despite BBC commentator Martin Keown’s quip during the England-Sweden game that if there was anyone at home reading a book “they need to get a life.” Key, based in London’s Wood Green, said: “In general the feel-good factor has been a really good thing for the high street. It has been good for footfall. When England did well then people felt good and spent money, it’s a psychological thing. When England won a match, people came in saying ‘isn’t it brilliant’ and they bought books.”
Hereward Corbett, manager of the Yellow-Lighted Bookshops in Tetbury & Nailsworth, said he had been taken aback by the World Cup's positive impact on his business.
“I was surprised – I’d expected the heat and the World Cup to kill sales, but actually sales have been slightly up! Brexit and the political situation does have a negative effect on sales; it seeps into people’s minds. But with the feel-good effect generated by the World Cup, that balances against it," he said.
However, other booksellers reported takings had taken a dive on match days, which they may now start to recoup.
Alistair Kenward of Rye Books in London said: "When England plays there’s a vacuum in terms of footfall and sales, although often when there’s a match on in the evening during the week there were more people out for a drink and a few came in.
"On Friday we took double the normal level of takings for some reason and then on Saturday (when England played Sweden) we took about 30% of that because the afternoon was so quiet. Then we were up on the Sunday compared to most other Sundays.”
Sanchita Basu de Sarkar of Muswell Hill Bookshop, also in the capital, added: “We were definitely down on Saturday on what I would have usually expected. It was very quiet around the time of the game and quite a few of the shops on the high street closed for it."
Some events have also been cancelled because they have coincided with England football games – Amazon’s Summer Party at its headquarters in London’s Old Street due to take place on Wednesday night was cancelled and Waterstones Crouch End also had to postpone an event with Sarra Manning and Rosie Walsh to September to make way for attendees’ desire to watch the match.
The excitement did not lead to a rush to consume football-related literature, though, with sales of footie books only marginally up at the tills. The 2018 Fifa World Cup 2018 Official Book (Carlton) has sold 16,016 units, a 2% rise on the 2014 edition—and that is against a tournament in which England crashed out in the group stages with at the very least a week’s worth of sales.
World Cups, perhaps because of England’s prior dismal performances—and England fans general Eyeore-ish view of their team’s chances—historically don’t add much to the overall market. In fact, in each of the year’s of previous World Cups during the BookScan era, sales have declined in the Ball Games: Field and Outdoor (in which non-memoir football books are coded) against the previous year’s sales. This may change in 2018.