The creator of the Richard and Jody book club gave the Times her top tips for writing a book club favourite today. Quite interesting, if generally depressing, stuff. I don’t even know why it depresses me. There’s nothing wrong with book clubs per se, in fact I technically think they are awesome in a get-people-excited-about-reading kind of way.
I reckon Amanda Ross does give a pretty good list of things to avoid, however. I just like the idea that most intelligent writers would already be certain not to write memoirs about nothing or hideous copies of popular past titles.
Anyway, maybe I’m just prejudiced against book clubs because the only time I went to one, we did Yes Man by Danny Wallace and it made me want to be sick every few pages. I ain’t no Yes Man. If anything, I’m more of a No Girl.
Love them or hate them, Richard and Judy had a massive impact on the UK’s book buying public. However, their popular show didn’t survive when it was transplanted from Channel 4 to Watch, a digital channel, and left the air back in July. (I wonder why?)
Never fear TV Book Club fans, Channel 4 will be returning the Book Club to our screens – albeit without the duo. Instead books will be discussed by folks like Strictly Come Dancing contestant Laila Rouass, comic Jo Brand and stylist Gok Wan. Interesting. I wonder whether these guys will have the same ability to effectively launch careers on the back of a televised discussion of its merits? Whether they will end up fighting over the books? Whether Gok will make the authors get naked?
I guess it’s got to be a good thing either way, the more people reading the better.
Where would we be without the Richard and Judy book club here in the UK? While I scoffed at them in the beginning (ok, I still do) it has to be said that some of the books they’ve chosen over the years were wonderful and deserving of the attention – The Time Travellers’ Wife being one of my favourites.
Anyway, the two suddenly became hugely influential figures in the book world with the power to shoot a relatively unknown author to stardom and extensive sales. And so their reign continued gathering new subjects all the while, until they moved to digital channel Watch and found themselves dropped for dwindling viewing figures.
Now it looks like the book club is set to make a resurgence, however it will come sans the duo. Instead, the new Cactus TV show for More4 will feature some brand new presenters.
I find the whole thing rather heart-warming (sorry Rich, sorry Judy), as to me it indicates that it’s the format that’s popular. And that means that it’s books that are popular. Hurrah for reading! Who knows what the revamp will hold in store for the book club; a sexified style? A jazzed up culture show? Reading gently with more unthreatening middle classers? It doesn’t really matter to me too much because I won’t watch it anyway. But I absolutely won’t complain that books are getting a viewing on TV, even when I do disagree with some of the selections!
Sometimes all something needs is a celebrity name to it, a mere mention is like a flame to a fuse and suddenly it explodes in popularity. Think of the massive sway of the Oprah book club in the US and the UK’s version from Richard and Judy – a title on their recommended list and suddenly your sales go off the chart. So the news that Jonathan Ross, a huge Twitter fan, has launched a book club over the micro blogging service is pretty exciting stuff for the book world.
Found at #wossybookclub, he’s chosen Jon Ronson’s Men Who Stare at Goats as the first candidate prompting a swift rise up the charts for the book in question. According to bookseller.com it saw a 7,000 per cent increase in 24 hours! Nice work Ross.
Unsurprisingly Ronson sounds pretty pleased about the whole thing, undoubtedly Picador will be too. I wonder if Ross is soon to become the next celeb to suddenly become incredibly influential in book sales – despite being famous for something else entirely. If it gets people reading, then I’m certainly not one to complain.