Trade set to lose ‘Super Thursday’ boost
30.04.10 | Graeme Neill, Benedicte Page and Philip Stone
Publishers are moving away from the “Big Bang” approach for the release of this year’s key Christmas titles, despite the blaze of publicity generated by “Super Thursday” over the past two years.
The previous two Christmas trading campaigns have been kick-started by “Super Thursday”, with a glut of big titles released on one day. In 2008, titles by the likes of Dawn French and Nigella Lawson were published on 2nd October. A year later, Chris Evans and Jo Brand, among others, hit the market on 1st October.
But while “Super Thursday” achieved mainstream media attention, it did not match it in terms of sales. In 2007, the book trade’s fourth quarter hit an all-time high, with sales worth £645.4m. In 2008, the year of the first “Super Thursday”, sales fell to £629.3m in the final quarter. Last year, sales fell again to £619.2m.
The numbers appear to have influenced scheduling this year with big releases spread over a number of weeks. A HarperCollins spokesperson said: “There is a feeling that some titles may have been crowded out by the competition.”
Retailers welcomed the move, saying it would free up time to promote titles. Tim Watson, Waterstone’s product director, said: “Publishing such a huge number of books on the one day puts strain on retailers in terms of distribution and in terms of promotional planning. We can’t do justice to everything if it’s all crammed into one day.”
Phil Carroll, Sainsbury’s head of books, added: “This means it frees us up to give titles better focus.”
However, Larry Findlay, m.d. of Transworld, said the trade was not intentionally avoiding a big release day. He said: “You need to get all your books out between the beginning of September and the end of October and people spread out the titles that are coming from their own house.”
Kerr MacRae, executive director at Simon & Schuster, said release dates had plenty of time to change and would be affected by publicity plans.