Bookshops bemoan 'Mogadon' Booker

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The Independent Online
THIS year's Booker Prize has been declared a resounding failure by British booksellers, who have found the shortlisted novels impossible to sell and condemn them as dreary and obscure.

Julian Rivers, marketing director of the influential Dillons bookshops, said: 'It's a boring, Mogadon list. We've been active in promoting the shortlist in the past, but this year we feel it doesn't warrant special attention. Compared to past years, I fear we will sell very badly. It's the most boring list for a long time.'

The winner of the pounds 20,000 prize will be announced on 11 October. Last year's winning novel, Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha, by Roddy Doyle, sold more than 50,000 copies before it was shortlisted.

This year, public interest in the list has failed to materialise and sales of contenders so far - Jill Paton Walsh (Knowledge of Angels), Romesh Gunesekera (Reef), James Kelman (How Late It Was, How Late), Alan Hollinghurst (The Folding Star), Abdulrazak Gurnah (Paradise) and George Mackay Brown (Beside The Ocean Of Time) - are said to be exceptionally poor.

Booksellers blame a lack of imagination and originality in this year's choices.

Alan Leitch, marketing director of the book chain Blackwell Retail, said: 'Nothing is selling particularly well, certainly nothing like as well as Roddy Doyle last year.'

Rita Schreyer, the manager of Books Etc in Charing Cross Road, London, commented: 'The shortlist is unusually boring. It hasn't got anything which has a bit of a buzz that makes the public look at a new piece of contemporary fiction if they wouldn't normally.'

Peter Donaldson, of Red Lion Books, an independent bookshop in Colchester, said: 'This year's boredom factor is pretty high. Most of the books and authors in question are not known. The sense is that they are not bright and sparkly - but rather dreary, rather dusty and rather dry.'

Lois Brown, manager of Waterstones in Belfast, agreed. 'It's pretty dismal. We expect to sell very few of the shortlist this year. To some extent we're stocking the shortlist as a duty, not because we really expect to sell them.'