Analysis has revealed that £4.6m of books were sold under the W H Smith Spring Richard and Judy Book Club promotion, as the retailer released the celebrity couple's new summer titles.
The eight Spring Book Club titles have sold 853,000 copies across the book trade since the promotion launched in January, according to Nielsen BookScan data—nearly double the figure Channel 4's "TV Book Club" 2011 shifted (451,000 units, equating to £2.4m).
Emma Donoghue's début Room (Picador) was the bestselling title of the collection at 287,000 copies (£1.5m), outstripping the next best-selling title The Postmistress by Sarah Blake (Viking) by more than two-to-one, as it sold 124,000 copies (£0.7m). Room was also a pick on the "TV Book Club".
Showbusiness couple Richard and Judy also announced an extension of their exclusive contract with WHS until 2015. They will release three sets of Book Club titles a year for the next four years.
Hachette has the lion's share of titles featured in the W H Smith Summer Richard and Judy Book Club list, landing five out of the eight books featured in the promotion—including two from Headline and one each from Sceptre, Hodder and Virago.
Sarah Winman's When God Was a Rabbit and The Death Instinct by Jed Rubenfeld are the chosen titles under Headline, with The Poison Tree by Erin Kelly representing Hodder. The Novel in the Viola by Natasha Solomons is the title for Sceptre, while The Return of Captain John Emmett by Elizabeth Speller features for Virago.
The other three titles in the third Richard and Judy promotion comprise The Confessions of Katherine Howard by Suzannah Dunn (HarperPress), Every Last One by Anna Quindlen (Windmill Books—a Random House imprint) and The Summer of the Bear by Bella Pollen (Pan Macmillan).
Russell said the titles are chosen on the strength of the novel regardless of the publisher. She said: "Sometimes we think: 'Oh gosh, it has turned out a certain way', but the only rule we have is that the book comes first."
The retailer receives more than 100 potential Book Club submissions from publishers, which are all read before being handed out to a W H Smith panel comprising fans of different fiction genres who recommend the best titles.
A set of 15 to 20 titles are then chosen and handed to Richard and Judy. Within a month, the couple both read the novels and select their top eight, writing a long and short review for each.
Russell said the new list had a "broad reach", containing the promotion's first historical fiction title from Dunn. For the first time the list did not contain a crime novel.