Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Richard & Judy return with new book club in the UK

Richard Madeley and Judy Finnegan are returning to the UK book world with  the launch of a new book club this time joining forces with the chain bookseller W H Smith.

W.H. Smith will run "The Richard and Judy Book Club" this autumn, next spring and summer. The retailer and television duo who announced the club to publishers on 17th June have met with a mixed response. The book club will not be backed by a television show, which must surely dent it's reach and therefore sales potential, instead six books are to be promoted instore this autumn under the R & J banner. A single title will be highlighted every two weeks.

In the spring and summer of 2011, eight books will be promoted over a 16-week period. The books for each club will be chosen by Richard and Judy as well as WH Smith's buying team. Pricing of the titles has not been confirmed but a WH Smith spokesperson said it was "likely" the new book club would be TV advertised. Advertising is OK but anyone working in Marketing and PR knows it's not as powerful as editorial and in television terms that means programmes. It will therefore be interesting to see the level of sales generated. I suspect they won't be anywhere as high as previously in the R & J Book Club heyday, but hopefully healthy enough figures for the lucky authors whose works are selected (and the publishers).

The other reason why this announcement has not been fully embraced by the publishing world is that it is extremely difficult for smaller and independent publishers to even get their titles stocked in W. H. Smith because of the vast amount of money they charge to publishers for doing so. Therefore it is likely that only the major league publishers will have their submitted titles chosen to feature, and it's not clear whether or not there will be a cost for submitting them.

However, Rachel Russell, W H Smith books business unit director said: "W H Smith customers were some of the biggest supporters of the previous Richard and Judy Book Club and we know that they, like us, will be delighted to see a new selection of Richard and Judy's recommended reads in W H Smith stores this autumn."

Finnigan said: "I'm absolutely delighted that we are involved in a Book Club again. People keep telling us how much they've missed it—and so have we."

Madeley said: "We've taken our time on this—we wanted to get all the details exactly right. Our first selection of recommended good reads should be in W H Smith stores across the UK in three to four months. They'll be clearly marked and displayed. We're thrilled that the Richard and Judy name is once again associated with books."

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