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Super Thursday 2011, or: Jamie Oliver is here to save the publishing industry (again)

The pre-Christmas sales season is officially (well, ‘officially’ – it’s not like anyone sought out a notary) underway after last week saw the annual arrival of Super Thursday: the day that has come to be known in publishing as the optimum time to launch whatever light entertainment pablum enough people might buy to palm off on that-weird-cousin-whose-tastes-nobody-in-the-family-is-really-sure-of-but-who-probably-has-a-television-and-is-probably-aware-of-and-interested-in-finding-out-more-about-the-people-on-it-however-specious to net it a place atop the Christmas bestseller list.

As is increasingly the case, the field consists almost entirely of some form of non-fiction written by some form of celebrity. The Guardian points out that ‘[n]ot a single fiction title is in the running for the top spot, according to William Hill’, which rather wondrously suggests that either The Guardian, William Hill or both believes that Alan Partridge is a real person and everything ‘he’ has written in ‘his’ ‘autobiography’ I, Partridge: We Need To Talk About Alan has actually happened, which certainly puts a whole new slant on the hilarious in-character Twitter feed Steve Coogan and Armando Iannucci have set up to promote the book.

Sadly, Coogan and Iannucci’s devastatingly accurate take-down of low-grade celebrity solipsism appears to be where the self-awareness and, presumably, laughs end in this year’s batch of frontrunners, which also features actual, no-really-this-isn’t-an-episode-of-The Day Today memoirs from such luminaries as James Corden, Jermaine Jackson and Jason Manford, the latter best suited to those who enjoyed it so much when Peter Kay wrote it a few years back that they’re willing to pay for it all over again.

The bookies’ favourite is, unsurprisingly, Jamie Oliver’s latest cookbook, Jamie’s Great Britain, which aims to give the chef-cum-social-crusader-cum-supermarket-pitchman his second Christmas number one on the trot following the phenomenal success of last year’s “When We Collide”, his renamed cover of Biffy Clyro’s “Many Of Horror”. What? Oh: following the phenomenal success of last year’s Jamie’s 30-Minute Meals.

Other contenders include the autobiography of Paul Scholes, who has at least been in the public consciousness long enough and accomplished enough of note to warrant a go at a book; The Inbetweeners Yearbook, a tie-in to the inescapable TV show and its film spin-off; and the latest inevitable-but-no-more-welcome-for-it collection of retrograde spluttering from Jeremy Clarkson, that sentient Daily Mail column about gypsies and women drivers whose every move seems like it should be soundtracked by the Kaiser Chiefs.

I know, I know – and there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth. But just think: in three months’ time, they’ll be choking bargain bins across the land, and we can all go back to reading the less commercially-calculated books whose publication their sales have funded. Once we get through the pile of them we’ve been given for Christmas by those cousins we never see, of course.


Chris Ward

Chris Ward

Chris Ward writes and says things about books and music and films and what have you, even when no one is reading or listening.
He was chief hack and music editor of webzine Brazen from 2006 to 2010, and hosted Left of the Dial on Subcity Radio from 2008 to 2011.
He can be heard semi-regularly on the podcast of Scottish cultural blog Scots Whay Hae ('20th best website in Scotland!' - The List), and in 2011 founded Seen Your Video, a film and music podcast and blog based in Glasgow. He has a Masters degree in Scottish Literature from the University of Glasgow that will never have any practical application. You are on a hiding to nothing if you follow him on Twitter expecting any kind of hot publishing scoop.

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