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Posts Tagged ‘David Blunkett’

‘Humiliation’ Taken to Logical Extremes

Author David Lodge popularized a game where you go around in a circle and name a book you claim to have read when in fact you haven’t, and now a new survey conducted in Britain conducted by a researcher at the University of Leeds doesn’t just confirm this practice, but reveals the titles least likely to have been read even as they are bought in droves. In non-fiction, political memoirs by David Blunkett and Bill Clinton top the list, with David Beckham‘s MY SIDE in third place. For fiction, the top “dog” is DBC Pierre‘s VERNON GOD LITTLE followed by the 4th Harry Potter volume and ULYSSES.

Four out of 10 of the 4,000 people polled said they could not concentrate on long titles and less than a quarter found time to read every day. Feeling tired and watching television instead were the main reasons for not finding time to read, with a fifth of people claiming it was because they worked late. “The research illustrates that the pressure of finding time for reading is the main factor when it comes to discarding a book unfinished,” said researcher Kevin Killeen.

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How did Peter Kay Revive the Celebrity Memoir?

That’s what the Guardian’s Patrick Barkham attempts to find out, as the noted comedian’s autobiography has the honor of the biggest selling book of its kind of all time – an achievement attained in less than 100 days. This took place during a Christmas season where overall sales proved greater than expected at 1.7bn worth of books sold (225m of them), a cash increase of 2.9% over 2005. Still, many in UK publishing were surprised at the book’s success. “No one really expected Peter Kay to do well,” says one agent. “I don’t think any of us suspected it would become the biggest selling autobiography of all,” says Jon Howells of Waterstone’s. In retrospect, Kay’s success should have been obvious. He is popular but not over-exposed, appeals across classes and genders and reaches beyond his northern heartland. More significantly, he had already set the shop tills pinging before his book came out. Phoenix Nights is believed to be the best-selling comedy DVD ever in Britain; it followed his fast-selling 2004 DVD, That Peter Kay Thing.

But Kay’s success – and the earlier bestselling status of Katie Price, aka Jordan – didn’t translate to memoirs across the board. For every hit, there was a high-priced flop like Chantelle, Michael Barrymore or former cabinet minister David Blunkett. “What Peter Kay and Jordan prove is that people are not as stupid as publishers think they are,” says John Blake, who published BEING JORDAN in 2004. “Both books are brilliantly written with great stories. These books sell by word of mouth. Similarly, anyone who read David Blunkett’s book would tell their friends, ‘Don’t buy that.’ A good book will always win out.”

But even though Blake wants to call a halt to celeb memoir big buys, don’t look for that to happen anytime soon…which means another article like this will be in the offing around this time next year.