Book trade dreams of a fairy-tale Christmas

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The Independent Culture

Anticipation, drama, punditry and mass hysteria – the hype around the publication of a royal wedding biography nearly matches the fervour accompanying the event itself.

Retailers are steeling themselves for a slew of books in the wake of Prince William and Kate Middleton's engagement. From Andrew Morton's as-yet unnamed book with publisher Michael O'Mara, to be released next year, to another by James Clench, a reporter on The Sun, to hit shelves on Friday, the publishing industry is hoping to capitalise upon a predicted nationwide boom in patriotic reading.

At least half-a-dozen others are believed to be in the pipeline. "I have published a lot of books of this kind and I have never lost money," said O'Mara, who commissioned the Morton book.

"Some people will just bang out anything with pictures of the bride and groom that they can make money out of. What's for sure is this is the biggest royal event since Diana's funeral. That was, again, a national holiday; very emotional. There's as much demand for commemorating happy events, of course, as sad ones."

O'Mara hopes to sell at least 100,000 copies of the Morton book, the release date of which will be announced when the wedding date is finalised. He confirmed Morton will receive a percentage of sales, though refused to specify exactly how much.

"It's a bit like making a movie," he added. "You can make a lot or you can lose your trousers." The book will be simultaneously be published in Germany, Italy, France, Spain and Portugal, along with Britain.

His confidence is matched by the nation's retailers. "Royal events always stimulate the market," Rachel Russell, business unit director for books at WH Smith told The Bookseller.

"This will bring people who don't typically buy books to the market. It's like the people who only come into bookshops at Christmas."

"It has to be good. I'm one of the few here who can remember Fergie and Andrew's wedding. We did very well out of that," added Phil Edwards, a senior buying manager at wholesaler Gardners. "Once the date is set in stone [the trade] will be able to pin promotions around it. It will be good for the export market."

While the Morton book has been written from scratch, other publishers – with an eye on the Christmas market – are rushing out updated titles that have been already published in previous guises. Kate Middleton: the Making of a Princess by Claudia Joseph, is published in paperback on Thursday but was originally released last year.

"The general consensus was they were going to get engaged at some point and people planned their books accordingly," explained Joseph, a journalist who has worked for Tatler and The Mail on Sunday. "My publishers decided to bring their book out before the engagement and bring out the paperback when they got engaged.

"With regard to being lucrative, it depends how many copies you sell. You only make a lot of money if it's a bestseller."

In such a fierce race, it's important to be ahead of the pack – and that means preparation.

Anna Valentine, a senior commissioning editor at HarperCollins overseeing the Clench title, said: "We have been in conversation about it for some time. The text was in place up until the engagement and we turned around final chapter last week.

"We wanted to make sure that we had the definitive book and are confident it will be the leading book in the market. We have a lot of interested in the translation market too."

Valentine said the first print run is an ambitious 100,000 copies to be sold for £14.99 each.

William & Kate: Celebrating a Royal Engagement is published on Friday by Anova and written by Jonathan Hayden to accompany photos by Robin Nunn.

"Every publisher is claiming to have a unique angle, but that is cobblers," said the book's author.

"Up until now anyone who wasn't part of the inner circle wouldn't have had anything. A lot of it would be speculative. Out advantage is that the book is driven by the pictures.

"Robin has been intimately involved in covering the royals for 30 years. It gives you an awfully good scaffold on which to build."


* Claudia Joseph's book, released last year with the subtitle "Princess-in-Waiting", is to be republished in paperback this week as a post-engagement product. The work uses research into Ms Middleton's ancestors and material already in the public domain.

The book's publisher claimed the author had spoken to Middleton's "inner circle" of friends, but some reviewers pointed out that many of them were distant cousins. Ms Joseph tries to expound upon Middleton's upbringing, her relationship with the Queen, and, not least, her on-off relationship with the future monarch.

* The journalist, broadcaster and royal commentator Robert Jobson has authored this account of the "love story which has captivated an entire nation", due out on 6 December. It is being billed as the "true insider account" of the pair's relationship.

Jobson's previous books include the bestseller Diana: Closely Guarded Secret, written with the Scotland Yard royal protection officer Inspector Ken Wharfe, along with Harry's War, the "true story" of Prince Harry's fight to serve on the front line.

His latest offering promises tales of the pair's first meeting at the University of St Andrews and plans for married life in Wales.

* Photographer Robin Nunn has teamed up with former publisher Jonathan Hayden for a picture-led volume of 130 pictures celebrating the pair's "very modern British romance". Nunn has travelled with the Royal Family since the early 1980s. His previous work includes an illustrated biography, 2003's William, The People's Prince. his new book, published on Friday, is described as "a commemoration of the relationship".

* The forthcoming tome from The Sun's James Clench, published on Friday, outlines Kate Middleton's "struggle" in the run up to her engagement to the future king and contains 150 photos by the newspaper's royal photographer Arthur Edwards. Edwards made his name photographing Princess Diana and this week Clench has reported on, among other stories, Prince William's stag do.