And I don’t mean by getting them on the couch to talk about their need to conduct their lives in public, but rather looking at the “effect” named for their chat-show book club.
The receivers of Richard and Judy’s blessing have certainly been winners. Between 2004 and 2006, according to The Bookseller, the Book Club selections sold a total of nearly 12m copies, worth some ÂŁ67m. Books such as Kate Mosse’s Labyrinth and Victoria Hislop’s The Island have been unmissable presences in bookshops: in the windows, on the front tables, in three-for-two promotions. It follows, naturally, that there are other books that have not achieved such success. Some books sell a lot of copies, and others sell a few: Richard and Judy did not invent that tough law of commerce.
They may, though, have exaggerated the effects of that law. Publishers and booksellers concentrate their marketing efforts on the books that are likely to generate the most turnover; increasingly, the rest are left to fend for themselves. The trend in the book market is for the haves to get richer, and for the have-nots to get poorer. Should Richard and Judy, some bookish types wonder, exert such influence over writers’ fortunes? The question arises not only from snobbery, but from unease that such life-changing selections are the responsibility of a small team, led by Amanda Ross at Richard and Judy’s production company, Cactus. “There is a sense that it [the selection process] is very much about corporate dealing,” James Robertson told the Herald.