The book trade has been gearing up for Hallowe'en with a range of fiendishly enticing promotions and events to sell the spookiest tales.
Waterstones has incorporated Hallowe'en as part of its half-term offer, creating Hallowe'en-themed displays and tables offering "suitably spooky" books for all age ranges, supported by POS. It is running a host of Hallowe'en activities and storytimes during half term too, citing Funnybones by Allan Ahlberg and Jill Murphy's The Worst Witch (both Puffin) as "perennial read aloud favourites”. Its top hair-raising reads include its "Children’s Book Of The Month", The Secret of Nightingale Wood by Lucy Strange (Chicken House), as an "atmospheric reading recommendation for the season”, while for adult fans of chilling tales, Michelle Paver recommends "Ten of the best Ghost Stories" on the Waterstones blog.
The Bluestocking Club, a monthly club based in Waterstones’ basement bar and pop-up cinema that screens films based on books, set up by Four Colman Getty’s Katy MacMillan-Scott, is hosting a "Hallowe'en Special" on Sunday 30th October (£7). It has selected Alfred Hitchcock’s "The Birds” to show at 1.30pm, with the screening of the “infamous chiller” to be introduced by journalist and book blogger Simon Savidge, sharing why he loves the Daphne du Maurier story that inspired it. Guests will be invited to grab a Halloween-themed cocktail and settle into "an evening of chills and literary thrills" for Hallowe'en Sunday, and to decide "which is creepier: the story or the movie”. Copies of Du Maurier's short story collection will be on sale and a percentage of the ticket will be donated to the Refugee Support Network.
Foyles is urging parents to bring their little horrors to a number of events. It is putting on Hallowe'en face painting and spooky mask making tomorrow (29th October) at its stores on Charing Cross Road and in Bristol, respectively, the latter inviting customers to join author, illustrator and co-creator of Professor Astro Cat, Ben Newman, as he introduces a brand new picture book, BOO! just in time for Hallowe'en.
Due to the flood that kept its flagship store closed for the best part of last week, it had to cancel its "Hallowe'en Monster March", a bookshop crawl that planned to start with readings from Neil Spring and Naomi Alderman at its Royal Festival Hall branch and end in a party at its Charing Cross Road store with "a live band that could wake the dead". However, the show for Foyles goes on with a "spooktastic Search and Find" in its Westfield store, where there will also be Hallowe'en themed colouring and activity sheets to enjoy. "We have reason to believe there are pumpkins, witches hat, ghosts and even creepy crawlies lurking on our bookshelves and we need you to help find them all," it says. All events are free.
Recommended Foyles titles for children include Mr Tickle and the Scary Hallowe'en by Roger Hargreaves (Egmont), Peppa's Halloween (Scholastic), Kirsten Robson and Seb Burnett's Big Scary Sticker Book (Usbourne) and Jarvis' Alan's Big Scary Teeth (Walker Books), and, for older readers, The Ghost Hunters by Neil Spring (Quercus).
Top Hallowe'en bestsellers at Gerrards Cross Bookshop, which recently hosted Ann Cleeves murder mystery night, meanwhile include The Signalman by Charles Dickens (Profile), Pumpkin Soup by Helen Cooper (Corgi) and Ten Little Monsters by Mike Brownlow (Orchard Books). It has also organised a “spooky kids story time”.
The Hallowe'en window at Gerrards Cross Bookshop.
Publishers are getting involved too. For Hallowe'en Vintage Classics are publishing Sherlock writer and creator Mark Gatiss' selection and introduction to chilling tales by "the unsung master of the classic ghost story" E.F. Benson, Ghost Stories. According to Ruth Waldram, Vintage brand director, a video of Gatiss talking about the ghost story collection is being promoted across the Vintage social media channels. On Friday the Vintage Books Twitter account will be giving inspiration as to which literary characters you could get dressed up as over the weekend, using the hashtag #vintagehalloween, and the Vintage Instagram account is being taken over by book blogger Ziba Reads who will be showcasing the best Vintage "spooky reads".
Orion is running a Reading Agency Haunting Reads promotion. It supplied packs of promotional materials, including posters, bunting and bookmarks, to 50 libraries for them to create eye-catching displays, and invite customers to enter a competition to win a whole set of “haunting reads" by reviewing Michelle Paver's Thin Air. It also supplied Twitter and Facebook headers for libraries to use to promote the competition, while on its own channels it posted mystery audio clips from Hallowe'en appropriate titles and asked people to guess which one it is. It has also been running a giveaway to win two signed copies of The Hatching with fake plastic spiders, and set up a special Hallowe'en landing page on its website.
Independent publisher Quirk Books is promoting its Hallowe'en titles this weekend at MCM London ComicCon with Miss Peregrine goodie bags to celebrate the recent movie from Tim Burton. It will be running various competitions throughout the convention and on Twitter over Hallowe'en. Prizes include the "ultimate Halloween night in”, comprising popcorn, horror DVDs and Quirk titles My Best Friend's Exorcism, Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, and Warren the 13th and the All-Seeing Eye.
Faber is basing its Hallowe’en activity around the settings of its favourite scary stories, under the banner "Fearful Tales and Where to Find Them". It has set up an interactive map of Britain and Ireland using Google Maps and dropped pins on the locations where various Faber books – as well as a selection of literary classics – are set. It will be hosting the map on the Faber website from today until the end of Hallowe’en itself on 31st October. On social media it will further be encouraging followers to suggest their favourite eerie literary settings, and adding markers to the map. "We thought this would be a fun way of finding new books or revisiting old favourites in this particular genre,” said Faber.
Michael O'Mara is sharing chapters from Literary London.
Michael O’Mara is having fun with pumpkins, to be carved in the form of literary mythical creatures, and has a series of book content giveaways planned to share the scariest of chapters from titles in its portfolio. It released a chapter called "Corpses and Romantics” on Tuesday from its book Literary London. The giveaway today continues with chapters on Frankenstein and graveyards to be shared from books The Secret Library and The London Journal. It builds up to a full book giveaway of The Zombie Combat Field Guide & Classic Comic Colouring Book on Hallowe'en itself on 31st October. A blog on its recommended “scariest reads” will publish the same day, with further giveaways to include a mystery "Halloween bundle" and the Monstrous Maud series.
Children’s publisher Salariya Book Company is meanwhile offering a discount of 30% on a selection of its titles including Fright Night: I’m Not Afraid of The Dark, Art Works: Drawing Monsterse and Graphic Horror. It has also released a “spooky” animated trailer for its Haunted House Sticker Book in advance of Halloween, which can be viewed here.