A new TV book club hosted by Zoe Ball is launching on ITV in June.
Produced by Cactus TV in association with Specsavers, "The Zoe Ball Book Club" will air on ITV1 in mid-June for 10 consecutive weeks until mid-August, focusing on one book a week. Ball will be joined by celebrities to discuss the titles, and a video package featuring the authors will be aired as part of the segment.
The club will from part of Ball’s new ITV weekend magazine programmes “Zoe Ball on Saturday” and “Zoe Ball on Sunday”.
Publishers are invited to submit titles via the book club’s website (cactustvbookclub.co.uk) by 6th April. They can put forward up to four books per imprint, with full criteria available on the website.
There will also be an “extensive campaign” to support the book club through bookshops and libraries as well as through Specsavers stores.
Amanda Ross, co-founder and c.e.o. of Cactus TV, will head the production company’s campaign and oversee book selection.
“I couldn’t be more excited to get another chance to do a proper book club on TV, especially with someone as popular and inspiring as Zoe,” she said. “I’m grateful to Specsavers for backing my ‘passion project’ and enabling us to encourage so many people to get reading.”
Alan Staton, director of strategy and communication at the Booksellers Association, pointed to the impact that the Richard & Judy Book Club has had since its launch in 2004, which he said proved there is “definitely a place for books” in a mainstream magazine TV show.
“It’s really exciting that books will feature so heavily in Zoë Ball’s new ITV show throughout this summer, encouraging even more people to visit bookshops and pick up a fantastic read,” added Staton.
Agent Jonny Geller called it “fantastic news for the book business. We have all been waiting for the moment when books would regain their rightful position on a prime-time TV schedule.”
Specsavers’ founder Dame Mary Perkins said: "We have long been an advocate of book publishing, having sponsored several book-related TV shows and events over the years, as I too Amanda’s and Zoe’s passion for reading. But obviously you need good sight to enjoy a good book and that’s where Specsavers fits in. We are delighted to be supporting this new initiative and know that Zoe will bring something fresh and new with her inimitable enthusiasm."
Julia Kingsford of literary agency Kingsford Campbell will oversee the submissions process and work as liaison between the book trade and Cactus TV, while Ross and her team will select the titles.
The book club will have a budget to promote chosen books, but publishers must also be prepared to commit their own marketing spend to maximise promotion, Kingsford said.