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Christmas 2010 not a season to rejoice for publishers

By January 18, 2011No Comments

“Christmas for Harper Collins started off well with big sales of books in October and November,” says Tony Fisk. “But I did feel there was a level of cautiousness in retailer ordering.

“The market was a bit softer in December than expected, but we ended up overall for the three months. The books we wanted to do well delivered, especially the Whineray bio by Bob Howitt and the motorsport title Croz: Larrikin Biker. Quake continued to sell – and in fact it still is this month.”

AUP’s Sam Elworthy is delighted to report that they ended their financial year on December 31 “ahead of predictions on sales and ahead on profits”. Titles that did the business for AUP over Christmas were Blue Smoke, Chris Bourke’s title on popular music 1918- 64, Julia Gatley’s Group Architects and Crisis by Alan Bollard with Sarah Gaitanos

“Because the situation mid-year looked pretty crappy, we were pleasantly surprised,” says Elworthy.

Kevin Chapman at Hachette summed up their Christmas as “OK. Not good, not bad. December started well and then just stopped.” He interpreted this as an attempt by retailers, a few titles notwithstanding, to try and sell existing stock. Hachette’s own hot titles included Keith Richards’ autobiography Life, Murray Ball’s cartoon collection The Wisdom of Dog, The Wheels on the Bus in its new local version and Maeve Binchy’s Minding Frankie. Overall, Hachette’s Christmas was “unspectacular, average”.

Random House’s Karen Ferns rated their trading over the period “A reasonable Christmas. It was erratic and not as we expected, but we ended up with a good outcome for the year as a whole.” Cookbooks were again strong for Random – Jo Seagar’s It’s Easier than You Think, Speight’s Southern Man Cookbook followed by MasterChef NZ were the bigger sellers among NZ books, and Go Fish, first published in 2009, “fired again.” Nigella Lawson’s Kitchen was the lead international non fiction title, she said.

“In international fiction the titles to mention are Lee Child’s second book for the year, Worth Dying For published in September and selling on strongly.John Grisham’sThe Confession and Jilly Cooper’s new racy saga Jump! were next in line.

“Overall it was a solid rather than spectacular Christmas for Random, with lots of books and authors performing respectably but few spiking beyond expectations,” concludes Karen Ferns.

“It was a challenging Christmas for Allen & Unwin with sales slightly behind on the previous year,” reports Melanie Laville-Moore. “Fiction was particularly tough and we were very grateful to have had the contribution from the Millennium Trilogy to buoy this part of the list up for us.

“On the positive side, we had some great successes with individual titles. In particular, Wendyl Nissen’s Home Companion proved to be an overall crowd-pleaser and sold strongly through all channels which was very pleasing to see.”

Penguin NZ’s Christmas season sales were “patchy” says Siobhan Clare, general manager, sales. “We had some stand out successes overall with our titles, but it was a challenging Christmas,” she says.

All Blacks Don’t Cryby John Kirwan was one of the stand outs, and equally Lloyd Jones’ Hand Me Down World was the fiction best seller. “Jamie Oliver’s Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals was the cook book of note, with retailers commenting that he had returned to his former glory! Stephen Fry’s The Fry Chronicles exceeded expectations and we were pleased with Dawn French’s A Tiny Bit Marvellous.

“2010 was the year of Wimpy Kid for Penguin – it was flying out the door, and the final Vampire Academy title did well. A revised hardback-with-CD version of A Pukeko in a Ponga Tree was well received as was the board format of Slinky Malinki’s Christmas Crackers.”