Trade holds breath as sales lift for 'The TV Book Club' titles

<p>Publishers have privately expressed optimism about the impact &#39;The TV Book Club&#39; will have on the industry, though reviews of the first programme, shown last night on More4 (17th January), have been mixed.</p><p><a href=" target="_blank" title=" <em>Independent</em> seems surprised that the show &quot;could have teeth&quot; after the first book to go under the spotlight Sarah Waters&#39; <em>The Little Stranger</em> &quot;got less of an easy ride&quot;</a>, but others were disappointed by the small amount of time devoted to the first featured book on the show.</p><p>The programme debuted at 7:30pm on Sunday and is repeated on Channel4 this evening, with Chris Evans the guest on the first show. Book blogger dovegreyreader wrote that she was &quot;<a href=" target="_blank" title=" mystified about the programme, which is supposed to be &#39;inspiring Britain to get reading&#39;, and to be honest I&#39;m a bit lost for words</a>&quot;. </p><p>Other bloggers were frustrated that the featured book only received a small amount of attention towards the end of the programme. One asked: &quot;<a href="" target="_blank" title="">It was supposed to be a book club, so why did they only discuss the book for 4 minutes</a>?&quot; The BookRabbit blog responded: &quot;<a href="" target="_blank" title="">Less focus on the celebs and &lsquo;padding&rsquo; and more on the books themselves is all that is needed to help this programme fly</a>.&quot; On Twitter, the &quot;<a href="" target="_blank" title="">consensus of opinion was that #tvbookclub was disappointing</a>&quot;.</p><p>The <em>Independent </em>wondered whether the &quot;TV Book Club [could] actually have a negative impact on sales&quot;, after Waters&#39; bestseller was given a &quot;thumbs down&quot;. </p><p>&quot;If there is going to be genuine dissent, and the possibility that their top authors will be slagged off on primetime, will publishers continue to be so enamoured? That&#39;s unlikely to happen but on last night&#39;s showing, this book club may actually have teeth. It&#39;ll be interesting to see whether these teeth get pulled in weeks to come,&quot; the paper added.</p><p>There was no sign of any concern among publishers at last week&#39;s launch, where a number of heads of houses, including Random House&#39;s Gail Rebuck, Bloomsbury&#39;s Nigel Newton, Penguin&#39;s Tom Weldon, and Ursula Mackenzie from Little, Brown turned out in a show of support. Speaking at the launch, Cactus TV m.d. Amanda Ross said: &quot;We are aiming to continue the heritage of the last six years. There is something for everyone, we recorded our first two shows this afternoon and they were great fun.&quot; Hamish Mykura, head of More4, said it felt like a &quot;coming home&quot; for the book club.</p><p>Pre-show media coverage and timely retail deals have already lifted the sales of the 10 titles chosen for the show. According to Nielsen Bookscan, sales lifts kicked in over the past two weeks for the 10 titles, with an overall 32% volume uplift from 29,631 for the week ending 2nd January to 43,180 for the week ending 9th January.<br /><br />It is the most well-known titles, by Sarah Waters and Nick Hornby, which have picked up the biggest sales. More than two-thirds of the total sales of the club&#39;s paperback editions (61,788) are for Waters&#39; <em>The Little Stranger</em> (Virago) and Hornby&#39;s <em>Juliet, Naked</em> (Penguin), but all of the less well-known titles, as with the show&#39;s previous Richard &amp; Judy incarnation, received a boost. </p><p>Belinda Bauer&#39;s <em>Blacklands </em>(Transworld) leapt from volume sales of 839 in the w/e 2nd January to 2,843 the following week; Roma Tearne&#39;s <em>Brixton Beach</em> (HarperCollins) from 1,741 to 2,264; and <em>Wedlock</em>, the only title to already be out in paperback, has sold 4,142 copies in its new incarnation, already outstripping the version that has been on shelves since 3rd September.<br /><br />Coverage for the new show has included Ross advising readers of the <em>Times </em>on &quot;what makes a book successful&quot;, pieces in the <em>Daily Telegraph</em> and the <em>Guardian</em>, and BBC Radio 4&#39;s &quot;Broadcasting House&quot;. <a href=" target="_blank" title=" was also interview this weekend in the <em>Guardian</em> by former Granta editor Alex Clark</a>.</p><p>Retail deals on the titles, which entered stores on Boxing Day in their new stickered, paperback editions, include a three-for-two promotion in Waterstone&#39;s, a &quot;buy one get one half price&quot; deal in WHS and a &quot;&pound;3.99 each&quot; deal on the show&#39;s own site.</p>