New R&J book club to look for 'rising stars'

<p>Publishers&#39; submissions for the new Richard &amp; Judy book club must be completed by Monday (28th June) after the TV duo made the surprise announcement of a new club with W H Smith. WHS has said that the selected books would be &ldquo;ratecarded&quot;, but has denied that the books will be selected based solely on publishers&#39; ability to pay.</p><p>W H Smith&#39;s buying team will create a longlist of titles, across fiction and narrative non-fiction, which will be submitted to Richard and Judy&#39;s team who will select the final six. W H Smith is keeping its marketing and pricing plans under wraps but TV advertising is likely. The retailer&#39;s books business unit director Rachel Russell said: &ldquo;The campaign will be a fully integrated marketing plan across all media.&quot;</p><p>Russell declined to reveal publishers&#39; contributions to the campaign. She said: &quot;There&#39;s a contribution to the major marketing spends we are putting behind the book club but that has no bearing on the final selection criteria. The books have to be good&mdash;that&#39;s the most important thing.&quot;</p><p>Russell said the promotion would look for rising stars rather than the established names promoted through its Times Recommended Read or Book of the Week offers. She said: &ldquo;If you think about the authors R&amp;J made famous, people such as Victoria Hislop, they were lesser known names. It&#39;s important that there is a pipeline for the authors of the future and that&#39;s what we are aiming for.&quot; The promotion will run at 1,055 W H Smith stores. </p><p>Kerr MacRae, executive director at Simon &amp; Schuster, said a lack of regular television spots, contrasting with Richard and Judy&#39;s original book club, would not hinder the campaign. He said: &ldquo;The big, successful books were selling way beyond the television audience. Richard and Judy&#39;s branding is recognised now by book buyers so most of the work establishing the brand is done.&quot;</p><p>Chris Rushby, buying director at Bertrams, was sceptical that other retailers would benefit from the promotion of the book club titles. He said: &ldquo;There is the argument that all publicity is good publicity but I don&#39;t think a Smiths advert promoting the R&amp;J titles will be a route to riches for the whole trade.&quot;</p><p>Cactus TV m.d. Amanda Ross, who produced Channel 4&#39;s &ldquo;Richard and Judy&quot; with the original book club and whose &ldquo;TV Book Club&quot; returns to More4 on Sunday, said: &ldquo;I founded the first British TV book club because I&#39;m truly passionate about books, reading and literacy. Anything that encourages more people to pick up books&mdash;single retail promotions and beyond&mdash;is always something we&#39;d support.&quot; </p><p>But she stressed books had to be picked on merit: &ldquo;We take the selection process very seriously to ensure readers are recommended genuinely good books and have never been influenced by commercial interests.&quot;</p>