You can't put a good invitation down

NEVER MIND the book, savour the launch party. At this, the most frantic time of the year for new books, publishers hold several parties a night to ensure their latest wares are noticed.

Literary editors, networkers and bibliophiles with a taste for champagne can go on a launch crawl that can take in up to half a dozen books in one evening.

Three nights ago, the literary guzzler could have worked his or her way through The Bookseller's annual party at The Ivy restaurant in central London and the launch of Victoria Glendinning's biography of Jonathan Swift at Random House headquarters, ending up at the party for Rachel Billington's new novel, Tiger Sky, at Macmillan's head office in Victoria, where those who had partied too hard at previous launches were a little dismayed to find there was a power cut and the lifts weren't working. But there was a full day to recover before the lavish launch at the Ritz on Thursday evening of Dick Francis's latest racing thriller, Field of 13.

A modern book launch can cost anything up to pounds 10,000 - far more than the average novel makes. But the September rush, with its combination of the post-holiday buying of serious literature and the deadline for inclusion in next year's Booker Prize, is made up of names who tend to have sales well above the average.

"Actually, throughout the year we do really try not to have parties," said Minna Fry, marketing director of Pan Macmillan, "because I'd really rather spend the money on advertising." But she conceded that the avalanche of big names on to the market over a few weeks means publishers have to open bottles to grab publicity.

"There's a danger of party fatigue setting in," Ms Fry said. "People can get fed up with drinking champagne. The answer is to come up with something different."

This week saw new novels by Sebastian Faulks, William Trevor, Hilary Mantel, Dick Francis, Ruth Rendell and Morris West, with the next few days seeing works from Martin Amis, Ben Okri, Ben Elton, Ian McEwan, Philip Roth, the actor Richard E Grant, Paul Bailey and Michael Dibdin.

Grant's new novel, By Design, set among the trendy celebrities of Hollywood, will have his launch party at The Pharmacy Restaurant and Bar, designed by Damien Hirst and the haunt of some of London's trendiest celebrities.

Paul Charles, music industry manager turned crime novelist, has a new novel, Fountain Of Sorrow, which opens with a murder on a tourist boat at Camden Lock, north London. A launch party is being planned - presumably for those who have not read the book - on a tourist boat on Camden Lock.

Chris Patten's story of his governorship of Hong Kong, East And West, will be launched at Macmillan's Chelsea headquarters with Chinese food.

Some publishers are fortunate enough to have offices that make perfect party venues. Random House's offices in Vauxhall Bridge Road, London, have a large boardroom with views over the Thames and a restaurant with space for dancing.

Sebastian Faulks will celebrate the launch of his novel, Charlotte Gray, on Monday at the Cobden Club in west London, near his home and the homes of many of his friends.

Robert Harris, will launch his thriller, Archangel, in the Reform Club library in a fortnight, close to Westminster for his politician guests.

But the most imaginative publishing party plans are eclipsed by the celebrations being drawn up by organisers of the Booker Prize.

To mark the prize's 30th anniversary this year, Booker will be holding celebratory evenings of readings by previous winners at the British Library and at the Cheltenham Festival of Literature.

And in case anyone thinks that too bookish, there will be a full-scale government reception party next month at Lancaster House. Publishers will have to go back to the drawing board next year to beat that.

t Heffers of Cambridge, one of Britain's most famous bookstores, was put up for sale yesterday for the first time in its 122-year history. Nicholas Heffer, great-grandson of the firm's founder, William Heffer, and the company chairman, wants to retire soon and has no relatives who are prepared to take over.

Leading article, Weekend Review, page 3

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
Sport
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy as ECB finally wield the axe
Life and Style
food + drink
Voices
John Profumo and his wife Valerie Robson in 1959
voicesWard committed no crime, and the truth is still being covered up, writes Geoffrey Robertson QC
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas