Pan Macmillan, Bloomsbury, Orion and Penguin Random House all have titles in the running for W H Smith's Thumping Good Read Award, which is back after 15 years.
Altogether seven titles are in the running for the £10,000 prize, with authors Peter James and Jojo Moyes lined up as judges.
In stores from tomorrow (31st May), the launch title of the promotion is Capture Or Kill by Tom Marcus, one of two selected Pan Macmillan books, retailing at half the r.r.p. until 6th June in W H Smith's High Street stores. Along with its stablemate title, it will compete with six other novels from Bloomsbury, Orion and Penguin Random House to win the Thumping Good Read Award accolade.
Two Bloomsbury books will come next in the promotion: Sail Away by Celia Imrie and The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell before Guess Who (Orion) by Chris McGeorge is featured. These will be followed by Here and Gone by Haylen Beck (Penguin Random House), The Other Woman by Sandie Jones (Pan Macmillan) and Karen M McManus' One of Us Is Lying (Penguin Random House).
The campaign, which is exclusive to W H Smith and originally launched in the early 1990’s, “aims to provide readers with a selection of books they simply can’t put down”. The promotion is part of the retailer's plans to boost summer sales, along with its Price Promise which sees customers offered money back if they find titles cheaper at a local rival bookshop.
The new judges, James and Moyes, will collaborate to select their favourite 'Thumping Good Read’ of 2018. Their joint decision of their preferred title will make up half of the vote with the other half of the vote decided by readers, who will be able to choose their favourite title by visiting W H Smith’s ‘Thumping Good Read’ blog.
The raft of promotions follow the retailer’s book sales dropping 7% in the first six months of its financial year to 26th February 2018, but the company said it had seen some "encouraging results" for its new High Street book offer for customers, currently being rolled out to all its major stores.
On Tuesday (29th May), authors defended W H Smith after the chain was named the worst shop on the UK high street in a Which? Survey of more than 10,000 consumers. According to the research, customers complained W H Smith stores were out-of-date, products were expensive and staff were rude, but writers such as Joanne Harris praised the company, saying that it was the “place where most working-class people buy books” and helped to combat illiteracy.
Moyes, who recently saved the adult literacy scheme Quick Reads from closing, said: “I’m absolutely delighted to be a judge for the return of W H Smith’s Thumping Good Read award.”
“In a relentless, digital age many people are starting to understand that to get lost in a thumping good read is not just pleasurable but also far better for us than endlessly scrolling a screen. I’m looking forward to reading my way through the shortlist.”
James described feeling “thrilled and very honoured to be asked to be a judge of an award I admire so much”.
“The Thumping Good Read is something I’ve always considered to be unique among all literary awards, for what it celebrates,” James said. “And that is the unalloyed joy and exhilaration of the page-turner, the purest form of story telling, the kind of books that we know we are going to love from the very first line, and which will grip and carry us, with constant, and sometimes breathless, excitement to the very end. “
Alex Call, head of books marketing at W H Smith, added: “We all lead busy lives so when we do finally get a chance to settle down and read a book we want to make sure it's a good one. For everyone looking for their holiday read this summer ‘Thumping Good Read’ will ensure just that. This is a book prize for everybody, no matter who you are, you will be able to find a book that you'll love.
“The overall winner will be decided not only by two of our favourite authors but also by a public vote, so our customers are guaranteed a winning title that they just won't be able to put down.”