Those which sold

‘But do they sell?’ asked the Retired Children’s Librarian in a puzzled sort of way while we chatted on the phone recently. I had thought she’d be interested to hear about Annika Bryn’s contribution to the proposed book about Stieg Larsson. She’s always had an interest in crime, and her heart ought to swell with pride over the Swedish trilogy doing so well across the world.

At first I got confused, thinking she wondered about the sales-worthyness of books about famous people. The penny dropped when I realised she didn’t feel that Stieg’s achievement had been all that great. I assured her he had done quite well in sales. ‘Have you read them?’ was her next question, clearly having forgotten we’d been over this ground before.

This conversation took place when I was virtually sitting there holding the fresh 2010 Nielsen sales figures in my hand, where Stieg’s book was number one. And number two. And number three. But you can only manage that much convincing on the phone so I gave up.

I don’t begrudge anyone on that list their success. (Oh, all right, one or two of them.) I just wish you could find more quality on there. Or is that of necessity an oxymoron?

After the successful crime writer, I only checked the list for children’s books. Stephenie Meyer, naturally. Then The Gruffalo, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, I Shall Wear Midnight (yay!), Gruffalo’s Child, more Wimpy Kid, Percy Jackson (film tie-in), Thomas the Tank Engine, Magic Ballerina, more Wimpy Kid, and the Beano Annual.

No doubt I’ve missed one  or two.

Surprised to find no Jacqueline Wilson or Francesca Simon.

It’ll be a while before the above books become motorways around the country. I was interested to see Hilary’s (McKay) comment yesterday that she doesn’t mind her own books being turned into roads. Maybe it’s good that we don’t all lose our heads and take in more strays?


4 responses to “Those which sold

  1. i don’t know why the newspapers haven’t snapped you up yet as a columnist. you are such a good writer. even when you’re reporting on the neilsen bookscan.

  2. Oh, let’s sit here all morning and do compliments!

    One clue would be that very many Guardian email addresses have been turned into, which I take to mean a definite lack of money or commitment from he who pays.

    But feel free to suggest the Guardian books blog lists Bookwitch as ‘sites we like’. I’ve long felt they need more variety and something on children’s books and crime. Besides that list has been the same for all the time I’ve looked at it.

    And now I’ll take my Swedish modesty and go and hide in shame for the rest of the week. MUST NOT assume I’m any good… at ANYTHING. It’s not what one does.

  3. Very interesting, Bookwitch. I was just thinking: if publishers acknowledged just how very FEW copies even the best books sell in this country, then they would do their financial modelling (or whatever it’s called) quite differently and that might, you never know, lead to books staying in print a while longer. Instead of which, most books sell practically nothing and then their authors are given the chop. Most disheartening, I call it.
    And re. Nordic noir, I’ve just read the latest Indridason, HYPOTHERMIA and want to say: WHY OH WHY do they give away so much by calling the book that? They could have called it something else which would have kept us guessing longer. Having said which, the place names, esp. of lakes, are outstandingly beautiful and the cuisine outstandingly foul! Love it!

  4. Just looked up the Icelandic title for Hypothermia which is Harðskafi , and more googling sort of suggests it is a place name. In which case you are right, and hypothermia is less suitable as a title, except it sounds good. Word beginning with an H, sounds cold and final. Very Nordic.

    Maybe you are just too intelligent?

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