Campbell's diaries is book most often left in hotel rooms

Andrew Grice
Wednesday 29 August 2007 00:00
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Alastair Campbell's book on his time in government is selling well but his first literary accolade is an unwelcome one. The Blair Years has topped a list of the books most often left behind in hotel rooms.

When Tony Blair's former director of communications launched his diaries, they were hailed as the political book of the year and described by his publishers Hutchison as "the most compelling and revealing account of contemporary politics you will ever read."

Mr Campbell would no doubt put a positive spin on his unwanted award: at least it shows his diaries are being read. For once, it wouldn't be all spin: his book is number two in the latest bestseller list for non-fiction hardbacks after selling 55,515 copies since its publication on 9 July.

In the rather less coveted list of books left behind by hotel guests, Mr Campbell was in the company of people he might prefer to avoid. Piers Morgan, the former editor of the Daily Mirror, with whom he had plenty of run-ins during his years in Downing Street, was runner-up with his book Don't You Know Who I Am? and Katie Price, better known as the model Jordan, was third with her A Whole New World.

Mr Morgan and Jordan have been in Mr Campbell's mind recently. Just before he went to the US to promote his book, Mr Morgan sent him a cheeky text saying it was getting good reviews there and so he would do his best to correct that impression.

"I cannot seem to escape you," Mr Morgan told Mr Campbell from his Hollywood swimming pool. "The Los Angeles Times Review says your book is a valuable source for scholars and one of the most compelling reads of history in the raw. I will put them right obviously."

Mr Morgan advised Mr Campbell to "try smiling when you're on telly" while on his five-day tour because "they like that over here."

When the former spin doctor went on tour in Britain, the manager of a Scottish bookshop told him: "Usually it's only Jordan and true crime that sell out of here."

The list was compiled by hotel chain Travelodge, whose operations director, Jason Cotta, said: "This review always gives us a good idea of what is going on in consumers' minds during the summer holidays. Clearly celebrity status is what we all want to know about, and Alastair Campbell's diaries were bound to intrigue."

The good news for Mr Campbell is that there is no sign - yet - of his diaries featuring in another list of "the great unreads": Books that are given as presents but remain unthumbed.

Mr Campbell, who refused a more lucrative deal for his diaries to be serialised by a newspaper to combat what he calls media sensationalism, has admitted he is pleasantly surprised by his sales figures.

"It all appears to be going rather well,' he said. "It appears to be the bestselling non-fiction hardback everywhere. This was clearly a bit of a shock.

"Some stores separate fiction and non-fiction in their top 10 display areas, so in those I have one of the two number one slots. Where fiction and non-fiction are mixed, I take my rightful place below the global phenomenon that is J K Rowling's wizard creation."

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