What they bought

Feeling grumpy again. And I’m going to ignore Thumper’s mother for a few minutes.

It is a good thing that of the 100 biggest selling books in 2016 17 were children’s books. I reckon that’s more than it used to be. But I am trying to work out if I believe it’s a good thing that eight of them are by David Walliams.

Five are by J K Rowling, two are Jeff Kinney’s and there’s a Mick Inkpen and a Roald Dahl. The last two were World Book Day books, which might explain the numbers.

On the one hand, I like that people are buying books for children, and I like the fact that lots of children are reading. But I would love for many more of those books to be by other authors.

I can understand why the book business bow and scrape to David Walliams. He brings in a lot of money. And presumably, if publishers didn’t go for his books, there wouldn’t be the same number by others sold, nor even published.

But I do mind. If the books are bought because they truly are what a child wants, then OK. I hope that after they will move on to other kinds of books, by other writers. Writers who take more part in the writing process.

But I hate the fact that books are bought because you recognise the name off television. And not in a literary way.

I’m relieved that the top selling spot is occupied by a Harry Potter related book. Anything to avoid the celebrity book effect.

As long as children read… And I suppose, as long as someone buys books for them. I remember reading pretty light and flimsy books myself, and craving more. They were all by different authors, however, and many of the books were borrowed. It’s the fact that it appears that children’s publishing stands and falls with one man that bothers me.

I hope his success means there is plenty of money to put into publishing real children’s books.

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6 responses to “What they bought

  1. Maybe it will be something of a comfort if I say that I have no idea who David Walliams is. From my former life in the book biz, I do think it’s a steep climb for someone who hasn’t broken through to some kind of bestsellerdom. It’s up to us to keep bringing great but neglected writers to the light in hopes that they will rise.

  2. It won’t be a comfort to him, though. I understand he’s so big that he couldn’t even be civil to fellow authors at some publisher/agent party where someone I know met him. It must be tough being quite that famous.

  3. I also am a little disappointed that David Wallliam.s books are touted by the children as ‘favourite reads’ but it is because of the parents purchasing them because of the celebrity status. I am a school librarian I constantly read the books out there and suggest and get students interested in the new and up and coming authors. I loved Sarah Bakers “Through the Mirror Door” and was fortunate to win a copy which I read and then put into library stock. It is now going out as soon as it is back in the library as ‘word of mouth’ by the students is getting it noticed. Love your blog and it quite often makes me smile 🙂

  4. Being civil is the big test of fame, I think. Glad I don’t have to worry about that particular challenge.

    • Would that be you being famous and polite, or having to meet the rude and famous?
      It’s a shame that some famous people don’t realise that truly great and well known people are always pleasant.

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