Retailers hail strong and open Christmas

Retailers hail strong and open Christmas

Comic actor James Corden, star chef Jamie Oliver and actress Joanna Lumley are among the most hotly tipped authors for Christmas 2011, with retailers looking to capitalise on one of the strongest selections of titles for years, and a "really open" market.

Corden's autobiography, May I Have Your Attention Please? (Century), Oliver's cookbook, Jamie's Great Britain (Penguin), and Lumley's memoir, Absolutely (W&N), were each chosen by three of the leading retailers and wholesalers as Christmas bestsellers.

Comedians Lee Evans and Steve Coogan's Alan Partridge, fiction stalwarts Cecilia Ahern and Terry Pratchett, and literary stars Haruki Marukami, Carol Ann Duffy and Jeffrey Eugenides were tipped by two retailers, out of the six polled, indicating a strong selection of titles across a variety of genres.  

A spokesman at Waterstone's—heading for its first Christmas under new m.d. James Daunt—said: "The selection of titles is one of the strongest we have seen in years. There are some incredibly big celebrity titles and some quality writing across fiction, children's, cookery and biography."

The chain picked out House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz (Orion), 1Q84 by Haruki Marukami (Harvill Secker), Jeffrey Eugenides' The Marriage Plot (Fourth Estate), Charles Dickens: A Life by Claire Tomalin (Penguin), The Christmas Truce by Carol Ann Duffy (Picador), The Family Meal: Home Cooking by Ferran Adria (Phaidon Press), and Christopher Paolini's Inheritance (Doubleday Children's). The retailer also backed Alan Partridge's I, Partridge (HarperCollins).

Rachel Russell, business unit director for books at W H Smith, said the market was "really open", calling Guinness World Records 2012, Oliver's Jamie's Great Britain (Penguin) and Martina Cole's The Faithless (Headline) sure things. She added: "Children's generally looks very strong."

Sainsbury's book buyer, Sharon Nightingale, also selected Jamie's Great Britain, plus autobiographies by comedians Evans, Corden and Rob Brydon (Small Man in a Book, Michael Joseph), and mentioned Lumley and singer Michael Bublé's illustrated memoir, Onstage, Offstage (Transworld), as being "good fits for our customer base".

In fiction, Nightingale said it was good to see Cecilia Ahern back and added: "Other ones to watch are Pam Ayres [The Necessary Aptitude, Ebury] and Kirstie Allsopp [Craft, Hodder] and of course if we win the Rugby World Cup, Lewis Moody's autobiography [Mad Dog, Hodder & Stoughton] could be right up there."

Kindle senior manager Amy Worth picked titles from Pratchett, Corden, Cole, Ahern and Evans as likely bestsellers, also adding Diamond Queen, a study of Queen Elizabeth II by Andrew Marr (Macmillan).

Bertrams buying director Roger Miah chose Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney (Puffin) and Patricia Cornwell's Red Mist (Little, Brown), as well as the Corden, Lumley, Oliver and Pratchett titles.

Foyles' head of buying, Jasper Sutcliffe, said it should be another good autumn for popular biography. He supported Partridge and Lumley and highlighted quirkier picks such as micro-photography title Microworlds by Marc Valli and Margherita Dessaney (Laurence King) and cookery book Short & Sweet by Dan Lepard.

"Literary titles are strong this autumn, and we're hugely excited about the Jeanette Winterson memoir [Why be Happy When You Could be Normal?, Jonathan Cape] and the Murakami," said Sutcliffe.

He also drew attention to the quality of titles such as Carol Ann Duffy's The Bees and London Unfurled by Matteo Pericoli (both Picador). Both books went beyond standard form and cross over into works of art, he said.