Ross: Book Club sales 'not about ratings'

<p>Cactus TV joint m.d. Amanda Ross has insisted that Richard &amp; Judy&#39;s move to UKTV will not affect the book industry, but some publishers and booksellers are still concerned about the couple&#39;s switch to digital TV. Ross responded to worries that the couple&#39;s move to the digital channel would result in smaller ratings and subsequently in reduced book sales: &quot;I certainly don&#39;t think it will affect the book industry. The success of the book club [is] not about the ratings.&quot;</p><p>However, some publishers were uncertain about what the move would mean for book sales. &quot;Richard &amp; Judy&quot; currently averages 1.9 million viewers in its 5 p.m. slot on Channel 4, but when it heads for an 8 p.m. slot on one of UKTV&#39;s channels this autumn, ratings are expected to be significantly lower&mdash;peak ratings on UKTV Gold have been just 380,000 so far this year. </p><p>One publishing director pointed out that even though the &quot;R&amp;J&quot; brand might travel beyond ratings, most R&amp;J Book Club titles see a sales spike the week they are discussed on the show: &quot;Hearing people bring the book to life is a really powerful thing. The crucial thing is that people still watch it on TV. You would be a fool not to worry that there might be a dip in sales, but at least [the programme is] still there. We will have to wait and see.&quot;</p><p>Another marketing director agreed: &quot;The fact is it will not be watched by so many viewers. [But] I am hoping that it got such a head of steam that it will continue [to drive sales].&quot; </p><p>Others believe that the R&amp;J brand will continue to grow, independent of viewer numbers. HarperCollins m.d. Amanda Ridout said: &quot;The success of the club has gone far beyond being linked to a TV programme. TV adds to the power, but as a recommendation vehicle R&amp;J stands alone.&quot;</p><p>Booksellers were split, with some store-level managers worried that the move could lead to shortfalls in sales next year. Others were more optimistic. Borders&#39; Michael Jones believes there will &quot;not be a major impact on book sales and how we promote [book club titles]. Richard &amp; Judy are such household names&quot;.</p><p>In addition to readers&#39; trust in the brand, Ross pointed out that &quot;the future [of television] is digital&quot;, adding that &quot;it is exciting to be a big fish in a slightly smaller pond&quot;. Writing for The Bookseller this week, Broadcast magazine&#39;s Katherine Rushton said that &quot;digital TV may be the hinterland of the current television landscape, but that is rapidly changing in the run-up to digital switchover in 2012&quot;.</p><p>UKTV has also committed to a significant off-air marketing and publicity push to promote &quot;Richard &amp; Judy&quot; and place it &quot;at the heart&quot; of its entertainment portfolio. Ross said that it was &quot;a very ambitious project in scale in marketing and PR terms&quot;.</p>