I'm a celebrity memoir...get me out of here!

Slump in sales suggests ghost-written confessionals are past their sell-by-date

It is a literary genre about "how I became famous" that readers have found endlessly riveting and which has made a fortune for those celebrities who decide to tell all in return for a seven-figure advance.

But the love affair with the fame memoir could finally be coming to an end. After the phenomenal critical and commercial success of autobiographies by the likes of Michael Parkinson and Julie Walters, there are now signs that readers this Christmas would rather unwrap a copy of Stephenie Meyer's Twilight trilogy than Ant and Dec's saucily-titled Ooh! What a Lovely Pair.

Literary agents have branded it a "disastrous" autumn for the celebrity memoir genre and the book publisher Hachette UK has announced that it is trimming back its celebrity roster. The total value of hardback celebrity titles in the top 50 this year is, so far, £3.3m a significant decrease on 2008's figure of £4.6m.

Jonathan Lloyd, chief executive of Curtis Brown, suggested this season's memoirs – which include sequels by Peter Kay and Katie Price as well as autobiographies by Jo Brand, Chris Evans and Frankie Boyle – lacked the sensational factor and their comparatively unremarkable sales may impact on the advances that such celebrities received in the future.

"In the end, you can't fool the public. They expect to have the real book and the majority of offers this autumn are not real books, certainly not 'must-haves'," he said.

Others suggested that there was a saturation of "bottom-of-the-barrel" celebrities who were riding on the coat-tales of the genre's success, and that publishers were now returning to more traditional non-fiction books.

What is noticeable on the Neilson BookScan bestseller list this week is the prominence of fiction over memoirs – Dan Brown, Meyer and John Grisham's latest novels dominated the top 10, with Ant and Dec's book the first memoir on the chart at number seven. Last year, memoirs by far dominated the book charts.

Andre Breedt from Neilson said: "The autobiography is behaving very differently this year compared to last year and it's difficult to figure out why. Fiction has been very strong when last year it wasn't as strong. Last year there were more autobiographies on the bestseller charts," he said.

Overall, the market is down, year on year, he added, with consumer sales down by 1 per cent this year.

Liz Thomson, editor of BookBrunch, welcomed what she hoped was the end of an era. "What really gets me with regards to many of these memoirs is that they claim to give the so-called celebrities a voice when they are so often the voice of their ghost-writers. It's the aspect of cynicism in these publications that I hate. People are being paid a huge amount of money to write this nonsense, at the expense of new writers and quality fiction," she said.

Last year's big sellers were memoirs by Peter Kay, Dawn French and Paul O'Grady, and this week in 2008, O'Grady's was the best selling biography, with 46,920 copies sold. This year, by comparison, Ant and Dec's book has sold 25,880 in the same week. The drastic reduction suggests that the public appetite is waning for first-person celebrity stories.

Saturday Night Peter – Kay's follow up to The Sound of Laughter, which was first released in 2006 and was one of the biggest selling debut memoirs (selling well over one million copies) – sold just 16,884 this week.

But Jon Howells, from Waterstones, said sales figures have shown signs that readers were buying these books later than they were last year, but at a faster rate, possibly in preparation for Christmas.

"There will be an awful lot of people who will wake up with Jeremy Clarkson's or Frankie Boyle's autobiography on Christmas morning," he said.

Fallen stars: The books that struggled to sell

*Standing Out, by Katie Price

Price released the first of three autobiographies, Being Jordan, in 2004. Initially turned down by mainstream publishing houses after demanding a £1m advance, she was signed up by the publisher John Blake and sold 97,000 copies in little over a year, hitting number one. Her second, Jordan: A Whole New World, detailing her wedding and family life, reached number two, selling 198,000 copies. It was followed by Pushed to the Limit. Standing Out is not quite an autobiography but her personal approach to fashion. It sits at No 50 on Neilson's BookScan.

*Saturday Night Peter, by Peter Kay

The comedian's first memoir, The Sound of Laughter, has sold over a million hardbacks since 2006. It was hoped that his sequel, which charts the "hilarious journey" of the stand-up comic, would repeat the success of the first but it has not performed so well. This week, it sold 16,900 copies.

*Ooh! What a Lovely Pair, by Ant and Dec

The TV presenter duo's first memoir can in no way be regarded as a flop – it has so far sold 137,000 since its release in September – but it sits at number seven in the bestseller list, a far cry from this week last year when Paul O'Grady's memoir At My Mother's Knee was at number two, having sold 46,900 in a week.

*It's Not What You Think, by Chris Evans

The memoir was launched with Ozzy Osbourne's and Peter Kay's with great fanfare on Super Thursday and was predicted to top the charts. But the story of "how one council estate lad made good" was diluted amid a flood of bestselling fiction and is at 41 on the bestseller list. Evans plans a sequel next year.

Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey in the first-look Fifty Shades of Grey movie still

Arts and Entertainment
Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc, centre, are up for Best Female TV Comic for their presenting quips on The Great British Bake Off

Arts and Entertainment
Martin Freeman as Lester Nygaard in the TV adaptation of 'Fargo'

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
<p>Troubled actor Robert Downey Jr cements his comeback from drug problems by bagging the lead role in Iron Man. Two further films follow</p>

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book

Arts and Entertainment
Panic! In The Disco's Brendon Urie performs on stage

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Radio 4's Today programme host Evan Davis has been announced as the new face of Newsnight

Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams performing on the Main Stage at the Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park, north London

Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Mathison returns to the field in the fourth season of Showtime's Homeland

Arts and Entertainment
Crowds soak up the atmosphere at Latitude Festival

Arts and Entertainment
Meyne Wyatt and Caren Pistorus arrive for the AACTA Aawrds in Sydney, Australia

Arts and Entertainment
Rick Astley's original music video for 'Never Gonna Give You Up' has been removed from YouTube

Arts and Entertainment
Quentin Blake's 'Artists on the beach'

Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beach

Arts and Entertainment
MusicFans were left disappointed after technical issues
Arts and Entertainment
'Girl with a Pearl Earring' by Johannes Vermeer, c. 1665
artWhat is it about the period that so enthrals novelists?
Arts and Entertainment
Into the woods: The Merry Wives of Windsor at Petersfield
theatreOpen-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Arts and Entertainment
James singer Tim Booth
latitude 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Lee says: 'I never, ever set out to offend, but it can be an accidental by-product'
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe judges were wowed by the actress' individual cooking style
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

    Screwing your way to the top?

    Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
    Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

    Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

    Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

    The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

    Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
    US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

    Meet the US Army's shooting star

    Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
    Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

    Take a good look while you can

    How climate change could wipe out this seal
    Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

    Farewell, my lovely

    Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
    Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

    Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

    Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
    Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

    Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

    John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
    Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

    Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

    A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
    Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

    Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

    The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
    The 10 best pedicure products

    Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

    Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

    Commonwealth Games 2014

    Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
    Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

    Jack Pitt-Brooke

    Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
    How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

    How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

    Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game