Saturday, December 30, 2006

Looking Back, Looking Forward

The year's end brings with it the obligatory look back at the year that was, and the look forward to the year that will be.

Justin Jordan in the Guardian looks forward to the most exciting fiction releases for 2007 in the UK. I have a sense of being overwhelmed as I contemplate this list ... and there's still so much I haven't read from this year, from the year before, from ...

But there's an awful lot of stuff on this list that I desperately covet already. On my shopping list is Haruki Murakami After Dark (June), Graham Swift's Tomorrow (April), Ian McEwan's On Chesil Beach (April), Peter Ho Davies The Welsh Girl (May), Marina Lewycka's Two Caravans (March), Hari Kunzru's My Revolutions (June), the new novel from Michael Ondaatje (September), and the promised short story collections from Irvine Welsh and Roddy Doyle.

Just for a start, that is.

And then there are this years books that got away. I enjoyed this two-part list by Guardian readers of their discoveries of the year, here and here. (Though their recommendations aren't as interesting as yours in the comments to yesterday's post!)

Elsewhere in the paper, John Dugdale scrutinises this year's best-seller lists and notes some interesting trends in British publishing.

This year, the "Richard and Judy" effect is pretty spectacular. For those who haven't heard of them, these guys run a morning TV book club with books of the month and seasonal recommendations ... doing for the British public what Oprah does for Americans, with similar results. Whatever they recommend hits the best-seller lists, and authors who have benefitted this year include Kate Moss, Victoria Hislop, Dorothy Koomson, Sam Bourne, Elizabeth Kostova, Elisabeth Hyde, Jodie Picoult and even Jamie Oliver.

Increasingly in the UK paperbacks are being sold in supermarkets at prices which undercut the bookshops by a very big margin. (£3.73 = RM25.80 in Asda and Tesco!) Of course, women do most of the food shopping and this has lead to a "feminisation of fiction" on the best-seller lists. (Male authors do better in autobiography and cookery!)

Dugdale also notes that since Richard and Judy like to herald new discoveries, and the supermarkets are constantly looking for fresh produce for their shelves, so to speak, the best-seller lists are dominated by first-time writers.

Which is something of a worrying trend because authors could be in danger of becoming one-hit wonders ...


More in the same vein from Robert McCrum and Hepzhibah Anderson in the Observer:
The headline news from Christmas bookshops was unequivocal. Diet books and any volume linked to television seem to sell. Literary biographies and prizewinning novels - once the staple diet of the English shires - you can't give them away.
And as far as the new crop of fiction is concerned, they point of that it is impossible to ignore a unifying thread:
... war. Its catalysts, cataclysms and far-reaching fall-out shape an astonishing number of keenly awaited novels.

The view of book retail and publishing trends down under in the Australian* with a list of forthcoming Aussie fiction.

(*From whence I nicked the pic.)


lil ms d said...

Happy New Year to All Bibliophiles!

May millions of books come your way *just like that*, may there be no book banning, may great writers come visit Malaysia, may all the bookshops in Malaysia give hefty discounts to us, and may 2007 be wonderful.

Here's to a great bookish year!

fei said...


I'm not sure whether you've notice this, I bought a lot of peguin classic fictions at Giant, Tesco and Carefour with only RM9.90 1 or 2 years back. But I think they gradully stop selling them, maybe due to the poor sale.

lil ms d, I totally agree with you. Happy New year.

Chet said...

fei - Cold Storage had them, too, but they got replaced by more fashionable reads aimed at the trendy young.

bibliobibuli said...

the penguins in supermarkets wer discontinued stock

in the UK the supermarkets sell huge numbers of new paperbacks and cookbooks and have the power to make a bestseller

ms d - love that wish!