Fry and Richards top Xmas prediction poll

Fry and Richards top Xmas prediction poll

<p>Memoirs by popular polymath Stephen Fry and rock legend Keith Richards could be filling festive stockings this year with both titles predicted as the best Christmas sellers.</p><p>Six retailers and wholesalers were polled by The Bookseller last week to predict 2010&rsquo;s Christmas hits&mdash;Fry and Richards topped the poll with four votes each. After a disappointing Christmas 2009, retailers hailed a diverse list of publishing and a better spaced release schedule as aiding promotions this year.</p><p>Fry&rsquo;s and Richards&rsquo; &shy;memoirs have been eagerly anticipated&mdash;the Rolling Stone has never before told his story and Fry&rsquo;s first memoir, <em>Moab is my Washpot</em>, was published in 1997.</p><p>Jon Howells, Waterstone&rsquo;s spokesman, called Richards&rsquo; memoir possibly the coolest book of the season. &ldquo;Fry&rsquo;s status as national treasure is rock solid, it&rsquo;s hard to find anyone who doesn&rsquo;t like him,&rdquo; he added.</p><p>Nelson Mandela&rsquo;s <em>Conversations with Myself</em> (Macmillan) caught people&rsquo;s attention, picking up two votes as did <em>Freedom</em> by Jonathan Franzen (Fourth Estate). Howells called Franzen&rsquo;s title the most talked about novel in years. He said: &ldquo;This book puts Franzen up there with the American literary greats, but has the potential to sell like a summer blockbuster.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s a really strong fiction year. Last year there was the tendency towards the more literary, something which was good for us but doesn&rsquo;t necessarily equate to great sales. This year there are some fine literary books but there&rsquo;s also the likes of Dawn French, Jilly Cooper&rsquo;s first in years, the &shy;latest Martina Cole, Jed Rubenfeld and Sophie &shy;Kinsella.&rdquo;</p><p>Amy Worth, head of books buying at Amazon.co.uk, said: &ldquo;There is a lot of great non-fiction out this Christmas. Cookery books are particularly well represented with offerings from Jamie Oliver, Nigella Lawson and the Hairy Bikers likely to be among our top titles.&rdquo; </p><p>If retailers&rsquo; predictions are correct then Lawson looks set to cook up more sales than Oliver after receiving two votes to Oliver&rsquo;s one.</p><p>Rachel Russell, books business unit director at W H Smith, said: &ldquo;Christmas top sellers are particularly difficult to predict this year&mdash;Fry and [Paul] O&rsquo;Grady have made an excellent start but there is a strong and varied list so the strength of retail promotions is likely to make or break certain titles. It&rsquo;s an exciting time.&rdquo;</p><p>Retailers lauded this autumn&rsquo;s diversity. Phil Edwards, senior buying manager at Gardners, said: &ldquo;There&rsquo;s a good, varied list, I&rsquo;m always optimistic. I think there&rsquo;s something for &shy;everyone.&rdquo;<br />Edwards said the lack of a &ldquo;Super Thursday&rdquo; this year had a positive effect on the industry as it spaced out top titles over a number of weeks.</p><p>Tim Walker, owner of the small chain of Walkers Bookshops in the East Midlands and East Anglia, said that allowed booksellers time to promote individual titles. &ldquo;Last year we had Super Thursday. What publishers have done is spread it out&mdash;we&rsquo;ve got good titles all the way through September. Phasing has certainly helped.</p><p>Adam Powell, commercial content merchandiser at the Book Depository, said: &ldquo;Christmas books this year seem more serious in tone, less frivolous than recent years. Some heavyweight state-of-the-nation-style non-fiction and more considered, serious celeb biogs, clearly reflecting the times.&rdquo;</p>