Booksellers have already begun jockeying for position on a host of high-profile titles, raising hopes for a busy festive season
Alison Flood in guardian.co.uk, Friday 4 September 2009
It's only the start of September, but Christmas in the world of books has already begun, as the bookshops this week kicked off what has become an annual bloodbath of ferocious discounting, and publishers hang from tenterhooks to see if sales will match expectations for what has been hailed as one of the best autumn line-ups for years.
With Waterstone's yesterday announcing a drop of 3.4% in like-for-like sales in the 18 weeks to 29 August, "Christmas is critical," said Neill Denny, editor-in-chief of book trade magazine the Bookseller, "and more so than ever in this tough year." Overall book sales so far in 2009 are "pancake flat", he said, and the "chains are having a hard time", so there is "a lot riding on Christmas".
Booksellers and publishers are counting on a line-up of titles out this autumn which they consider to be the strongest for some time. October sees publication of a host of big novels, from Audrey Niffenegger's new ghost story, Her Fearful Symmetry, to new books from Bernard Cornwell, Kate Mosse, Terry Pratchett, Martina Cole, Robert Harris, James Patterson, Patricia Cornwell, Jackie Collins and Cecelia Aherne, and an authorised follow-up to the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy books from Eoin Colfer. Later on, in November, there's a new novel from Barbara Kingsolver, The Lacuna, Philip Roth's 30th novel The Humbling and the novel which Nabokov didn't want published, The Original of Laura.