Booksellers are gearing up for a "very exciting and busy” Super Thursday today (5th October), although one has argued the multitudes of releases may mean some "great" titles get overlooked.
This Super Thursday sees a massive 505 new hardbacks hitting the bookshelves, including Five Escape Brexit Island by Bruno Vincent (Quercus) - the follow-up to Five on Brexit Island, which finished second in the race to be Christmas Number One last year - Tom Fletcher’s The Creakers (Puffin), My Life Story: Sofa, So Good by Scarlett Moffatt (Blink), Only Fools and Stories by David Jason (Century), Finding My Virginity by Richard Branson (Virgin), Alan Hollinghurst's The Sparsholt Affair (Picador), Nadiya’s Bake Me a Festive Story by Nadiya Hussain (Hodder Children’s), The Diary of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell (Profile) and Mary Berry’s Mary’s Household Tips & Tricks (Michael Joseph).
Pipping Super Thursday titles to the post by just two days was Dan Brown’s fifth Robert Langdon book, Origin (Bantam Press), which was published on Tuesday 3rd October.
Booksellers will be vying for their portion of more than £558m worth of book sales; 66 million books were shifted between 2nd October and 24th December last year, according to Nielsen BookScan, with the success of key titles making or breaking many businesses in the last quarter.
To boost the titles’ chances of success, retailers across the country will be holding parties on Bookshop Day to mark the launch of cross-industry campaign Books Are My Bag on Saturday 7th October.
Kira Gibson of Chorleywood and Gerrards Cross bookshops in Hertfordshire, said staff are “very excited” about Super Thursday and revealed they are welcoming “Pointless” presenter and author Richard Osman for the occasion.
Gibson said: “The Chorleywood and Gerrards Cross Bookshops love Super Thursday, anything that entices people into a local independent bookshop is fantastic! We are very excited to be celebrating Super Thursday with Richard Osman and his new book The World Cup of Everything (Coronet). This will be a fun-filled night for both ourselves and the audience." She added: “It will be a busy time for us – we will have lots of amazing and fantastic titles coming into the shop for Super Thursday – the hard part will be stopping the staff buying them before the customers arrive!"
Sue Porter of Lingham’s Bookshop in Wirral agreed it would be a “very exciting and busy day”, adding that celebrating the day is “one of the best parts of the job”.
“I love taking a few pictures of the beautiful covers and then we can tweet about them on social media. It is usually a very busy day. Especially with some of regular customers who like to see all the new books we are carrying. I think they get as excited as we do! This is one of the best parts of the job.”
She added: “I have few favorites coming up including Katie Kirby the daily struggles of Archie Adams. I’ve worked with Katie before and think she is fabulous. A gorgeous book is The Orchid Hunter [by Leif Bersweden, published by Short Books], this is one I will be tweeting about. And my favourite one, The Faber Book of Christmas (Faber). If that doesn’t make you feel all festive nothing will.”
However, Vivian Archer of the Newham Bookshop in London said the release of such a hoard of titles on one single day meant some titles will struggle to be seen. She added it was particularly damaging to new authors.
“Personally, I think it's crazy to have so many titles released on one day", Archer commented. "It means some great titles will get lost and therefore not a good time to launch new authors, which could be detrimental to their careers."
But Archer added that "every independent shop is unique so we can all promote what we feel will be good for our shops”, citing titles including East End Vernacular: Artists Who Painted London's East End Streets in the 20th Century by the Gentle Author (Spitalfields Life Books), We Were Eight Years in Power by Ta-Nehisi Coates (Penguin), How to be Champion by Sarah Millican (Trapeze), and The Sparsholt Affair by Alan Hollinghurst (Picador).
Over 2,000 bookshops across the UK and Ireland will be hosting special events to celebrate Bookshop Day this Saturday (7th October). Now in its second year, Bookshop Day – part of the annual Books Are My Bag campaign – is a celebration of the "pivotal role" bookshops play in local communities in the UK & Ireland. The first Bookshop Day saw higher footfall and sales for participating shops.
Porter said of Bookshop Day: “I love this day, it means cake and sweets and that is just for the staff. The tote bags this year are gorgeous and I cannot wait to give them to our lovely customers. We have story time in the shop and lots of balloons and generally have a busy fun day! Events wise will be story time and generally having a fun day in the store talking all things bookish."
The Chorleywood Bookshop will see authors Maylis de Kerangal and Matthew Kneale visit on the Saturday to talk about and sign copies of their new books. "Our bookshop team will be waiting to share their latest reads with our customers and will be handing out a few treats as well", said Gibson.
In London, fashion designer, and creator of this year’s Books Are My Bag tote bag, Orla Kiely, will be hosting an event at Foyles Charing Cross Road on the eve of Bookshop Day, offering attendees an insight into her creative process and marking the re-issue of her design bible, Pattern. Bookshop day will also see food and book blogger, Kate Young, visit Dulwich Books to discuss her new literary-inspired cookbook The Little Library Cookbook (Head of Zeus); and children’s writer and illustrator, Steve Anthony, will be visiting Pickled Pepper Books in Crouch End.
Adam Kay, author of This is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor (Picador), will be doing an event at the Far From The Madding Crowd bookshop in Linlithgow, Scotland. The shop will also be celebrating with an all-day bookshop party, story-telling sessions, face-painting, and homemade cakes. In Wales, Budding writers will be able to visit Penrallt Gallery Bookshop in Powys, Wales, which is hosting a writing workshop and a poetry workshop.
Elsewhere in England, The Darmouth Bookseller in Devon, is hosting events with local authors; The Steyning Bookshop, West Sussex, will be offering the first 10 people in the shop to spend over £30 a goody bag, as well as homemade cake for customers all day long; and The Haslemere Book Shop, Surrey, is hosting a bookshop party, where a children’s illustrator will be resident for the day to draw pictures of the children. They will also have live music at the front of the shop as well as hosting face painting for children.