Hachette UK yesterday (6th March) unveiled forthcoming books from Sir David Attenborough, comedian Sarah Millican, actress Parker Posey, author Jessica Fellowes and Jo Cox’s husband Brendan Cox at its first group showcase held at the Old Billingsgate in London. It also announced to staff its acquisition of independent e-book publisher Bookouture.
Celebrating Hachette UK’s publishing programmes from across the group, the day comprised presentations from each division, as well as a series of “chain reaction” interviews with authors Laura Barnett, Dermot O’Leary, Mark Billingham, Elly Griffiths, Maggie O’Farrell, and Lucy Worsley. The event brought together 1,100 members of staff from Hachette UK, as well as authors, booksellers and press.
Ian Rankin kicked off guest author appearances on behalf of Orion after 25 years of publishing with the group. The author recently launched RebusFest, a weekend arts festival marking the 30th anniversary of his first John Rebus novel. Taking the audience through his literary journey, he said “thankfully I stuck with Orion and it has been 25 years”. He added: “The long haul can be worthwhile. Sometimes I think there’s a hunger for novelty these days and wanting that success very early. But early success is not always lasting success. And sometimes it helps if you’ve played the clubs before you get to play the arenas.”
The paperback of Rankin’s latest Rebus novel, Rather Be the Devil, comes out in June. Orion also announced Sarah Millican’s untitled autobiography with Trapeze and brought Versions of Me author Laura Barnett to the stage to promote her forthcoming book Greatest Hits, a collaboration with Mercury-nominated singer-songwriter Kathryn Williams taking music in the book "beyond the page".
For Hachette Children’s Group, highlights included new imprint Pat-a-Cake, the latest installment in Kes Gray and Jim Field’s Oi series, Oi Cat! (out September), children’s books from Olympian Jessica Ennis-Hill and Miranda Hart, and the new-look reissues of Enid Blyton’s The Famous Five series. For teens in 2017 it will publish Doing It! by Hannah Witton and The Taste of Blue Light by Lydia Ruffles (Hodder Children’s Books).
"X Factor" presenter Dermot O’Leary appeared as Hachette Children’s special guest to talk about his first book for children, reported on last week, a book about a blind ninja cat called Toto. Talking to Barnett about the writing process, and recalling advice from Radio 2 presenter Simon Mayo, he said: “The important thing is just to write. The worst thing you can ever do is sit in front of a blank screen and not put the words down.”
Intent on taking the audience on a journey, Little, Brown highlighted several key titles in a joke-packed London Underground-themed presentation filmed with the help of staff as actors. In it, Little, Brown revealed Jessica Fellowes’ debut novel The Mitford Murders will be published by Sphere this September. Fellowes is the author of five official tie-in books to Downton Abbey. Other featured titles were You’re on an Airplane, an "irreverent, frank, laugh-out-loud" memoir by indie film actress Parker Posey that Virago will publish in October; The Dry by Jane Harper (Little, Brown); The Last Girl by Nadia Murad and Jenna Krajeski (Virago); and The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead (Fleet). The latter it promoted with a short video review from Barack Obama praising the book.
For John Murray, Brendan Cox, husband of murdered Labour MP Jo Cox, was interviewed on stage by journalist Kirsty Wark. Speaking about his forthcoming memoir More in Common, he told the room of his experience writing the book: “It’s been very tough, but I also think it’s been an important part of coming to terms with what has happened,” he said. It publishes the day before the anniversary of Jo Cox’s death on 15th June.
John Murray imprint Two Roads announced it is publishing two volumes of Sir David Attenborough’s early adventures, starting with Zoo Quest. The titles were originally published in the 1950s and 60s. The volumes, his first narrative publications since 2010’s Life on Air (BBC Books), will be re-edited alongside Attenborough with a new selection of images from his original collection, for publication in September 2017. Other featured novels from John Murray were second novels Blood Miracles by Lisa McInerney and Andrew Michael Hurley’s new novel Devil’s Day, out in October. It will also have new publishing with How to be Human and Out of this World as the result from its partnership with New Scientist.
Striking an international note, Jon Butler, m.d. Quercus, surprised the room by conducting the majority of his presentation in Swedish to emphasise Quercus' books in translation and reaching a global audience. In 2017, it publishes Millennium V by David Lagercrantz and Italian thriller The Mountain, in addition to another quintessentially English second tranche of titles for its Enid Blytons for Grown-Ups series.
Octopus, which announced Feasts by Sabrina Ghayour at the end of last week, ran a spotlight on How to Eat Better by James Wong. Wong, a botanist, gave a presentation providing tips to the audience on how to improve their intake of core nutirents, such as ‘sun treating’ mushrooms before eating them to boost vitamin D.
Headline chose to highlight This Must be the Place by Maggie O’Farrell (Headline), Yesterday by Felicia Yapp (Wildfire), and See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt (Headline), while Hodder featured Lucy Worsley’s Jane Austen at Home, a book marking the 200th anniversary of Austen's death, The Burial Hour by Jeffery Deaver and He Said She Said by Erin Kelly (Hodder & Stoughton). Each given 30 second on the clock, Melissa Cox also introduced her first acquisition The Wicked Cometh, Emily Kitchin Katie Marsh's This Beautiful Life; and Nick Sayers There Was a Time by Frank White. Hodder also highlighted the new collaboration between Stephen King and his son Owen, reported on yesterday, a suspenseful novel called Sleeping Beauties.
Hodder Education introduced Rising Stars Reading Planet, a new reading scheme for reception and key stage one in schools, tasked with unlocking children’s potential by helping them to understand speech rhythms. A demonstration how it is training children had the audience on their feet and doing "wriggle room" steps in time.
The day was completed by a series of diary readings from David Sedaris. A selection of festival-style food stalls, serving dishes from cookbooks Persiana by Sabrina Ghayour (Octopus), Lucy Watson’s Feed Me Vegan (Sphere), One Pound Meals by Miguel Barclay (Headline), Our Korean Kitchen by Jordan Bourke and Rejina Pyo (Orion) and Deliciously Ella with Friends (Yellow Kite), catered for the event, which closed with drinks.