The cookery author Delia Smith has stormed the autumn bestseller list with her latest recipe book, Winter Collection.
The book has sold 500,000 in its first week, taking it to the top of the hardback list ahead of Enigma, Robert Harris's long awaited follow- up to Fatherland, and Nigel Mansell's Autobiography.
Ms Smith's publishers, BBC Books, had originally hoped the Winter Collection would pass the half-million mark by Christmas, but extraordinary levels of demand - fuelled by the interest created by her last big book Summer Collection and vigorous price discounting - should see sales pass 700,000 by mid-November.
Smith's books have sold more than 8 million copies. The Cookery Course has never been out of the top 20 since its first appearance in 1978, while Summer Collection published two years ago sold more than a million on the back of a television series, which was repeated this summer. The launch of the Winter Collection was timed to coincide with a new television series starting last Wednesday.
Such has been the interest in her culinary ideas that when she broadcast a recipe for truffle torte in December 1990, listing among the ingredients "liquid glucose (available from chemists)", pharmacies the length and breadth of Britain promptly sold out.
However, there is no doubt that the climate of discounting created by the collapse of the Net Book Agreement has contributed significantly to the pace of the Winter Collection's sales. Waterstone's is selling the pounds 15.99 book for pounds 10.99, as are Woolworths and Sainsbury's.
Book Warehouse is offering a discount price of pounds 9.99 - 41p cheaper than small independent shops can buy the book wholesale. This has led to fears that some bookshops will be priced out of business in their key gift-buying season.
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