Arifa Akbar: Big money is going to the biggest names
Monday 13 July 2009
The publishing trade has always drawn strength from the smug refrain that "books are recession proof". Until now.
Book sales have taken an unforeseen tumble; we find redundancy announcements made at Random House, HarperCollins and Waterstone's and writers face a precipitous drop in advances. Even Richard & Judy's Book Club has been given the chop.
Damage limitation exercises for Super Thursday – 1 October, when the publishing world whirrs back into action after the summer interregnum, are being put in place.
An onslaught of celebrity memoirs are set to hit front of stores, including offerings from Paul O'Grady, Simon Pegg, Ozzy Osbourne, Jack Dee and Peter Kay. Publishers who dared to take a punt on previously unpublished authors (think Aravind Adiga, whose debut novel won the Booker prize last year), are now preferring to hand seven-figure advances to guaranteed big-hitters such as Dan Brown and Terry Pratchett.
It all should force the industry to reflect on the demise of the Net Book Agreement – the equivalent of a gentleman's handshake on book prices. The agreement's collapse did not just pave the way for supermarkets and chain stores to dominate the trade with deeply discounted prices, but it was at this point that books lost their immunity from the changing winds of market forces.
Come autumn and the onslaught of celebrity tomes, books may indeed prove to be recession busting, but at what cost?
tv Jenny Lee may have left, but Miranda Hart and the rest of the midwives deliver the goods
Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites
TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Christmas comes early to Hong Kong, as millions of bank notes spill out onto busy street
- 2 The 'Black Museum': After 150 years, public can visit police’s grisly crime museum
- 3 British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
- 4 Vagina canoe artist facing two years in jail defends herself over ‘obscenity’ charges
- 5 The Queen’s speech 2014: Recap and Twitter reaction to Game of Thrones reference
Felicity Jones on being Stephen Hawking's wife in The Theory of Everything: 'I didn't want her to be a saint'
EastEnders Christmas Day special, TV review: It's all about the Carters this Christmas - and Danny Dyer is brilliant
Game of Thrones season five: First preview clip shows a beardy Tyrion, a moody Cersei and a distressed Arya
Doctor Who: Jenna Coleman to stay on as Peter Capaldi’s assistant Clara Oswald in next series
The Interview finally gets US release after Sony hack and terror threats – but reviews of North Korea satire are mixed
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
BBC director Danny Cohen: Rising UK antisemitism makes me feel more uncomfortable than ever
Alex Salmond has 'broken his word to the Scottish people' says Scottish Lib Dem leader