R&J titles receive a big boost

Richard and Judy’s children’s book club initiative, which launched a week ago, saw average sales across the 18 selected titles grow by some 226%.

The most popular titles have been within the "Fluent" category, which saw sales increase of 296% week-on- week. The bestselling title of the 18 recommendations was Francesca Simon’s Horrid Henry and the Football Fiend, which enjoyed combined sales of 575 copies last week, and was one of four titles to take more than £1,000 through bookshop tills. In total, 3,324 copies of the 18 books were snapped up, an increase of 2,305 copies.

Publishers, who are understood to have been asked for some £6,000 to include each title in the online book club, are confident of a return on their investment. Susan Barry, marketing director for the Hachette Children’s Group, said: "We are buying in to a well-known brand and we hope to see a significant uplift in sales of these titles."

She added: "While the Richard & Judy effect may not be as great for children’s books initially as for adults, W H Smith has a long-term commitment to it and we expect it to grow. R&J is a big vehicle." Phil Earle, sales director for S&S Children’s, added: "It’s a really good chance to build brands." S&S has included Jo Nesbø’s children’s book Dr Procter’s Fart Powder in the promotion. Sales of Nesbo’s titles rose almost ten-fold in 2010 after his adult thriller The Snowman was chosen by the duo.

Children’s TV programme "Bookaboo" has been promoting children’s picture books on CiTV and ITV, but the lack of a retail partner means that sales of the books included in the show have failed to perform as well as R&J titles. Some have even seen sales fall. In the week that actress Tasmin Egerton appeared on the show reading from Anna Kemp’s Dogs Don’t Do Ballet (S&S), sales actually fell by 1% week-on-week against an overall book sales fillip of 10.5% in the run-up to Christmas.