Former leading New Zealand publisher and bookseller, and widely experienced judge of both the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the Montana New Zealand Book Awards, talks about what he is currently reading, what impresses him and what doesn't, along with chat about the international English language book scene, and links to sites of interest to booklovers.
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Jamie Oliver tops Christmas book charts
TV chef wins Christmas sales race for third year running with 15-Minute Meals, beating Miranda Hart and The Hobbit
15-Minutes of fame … Jamie Oliver's cookbook tops Christmas book charts. Photograph: Amy Sussman/Getty Images for Justin Vineyards
The hundreds of thousands of amateur cooks keen to whip up a culinary storm in just quarter of an hour have sent Jamie Oliver soaring to the top of the Christmas book charts for the third year running – and the fifth time overall – with his latest cookbook, 15-Minute Meals.
Described as "a classic book that will arm you with the skills to create wonderful meals, shockingly fast", the one-time Naked Chef's 15-Minute Meals are "some of the quickest and easiest meals Jamie's ever done", according to its publisher. The book gives Oliver his fifth Christmas No 1: last year he took the top spot for Jamie's Great Britain, while the previous year he triumphed with Jamie's 30-Minute Meals. In the past, he has topped the Christmas charts with Happy Days with the Naked Chef in 2001, and Jamie's Italy in 2005.
The cookbook sold a whopping 117,911 copies in the week to 15 December, according to book sales monitor Nielsen BookScan, putting it easily ahead of the book in second place, the 2013 edition of theGuinness World Records (55,494 copies). 15-Minute Meals has sold 586,355 copies in total this year – more than any other hardback, including JK Rowling's much-anticipated adult novel The Casual Vacancy(356,769 copies in total), and Hilary Mantel's Man Booker prize-winning novel, Bring Up the Bodies (196,792 copies).
Oliver said: "I'm truly humbled that the public have really responded to this book in such a big way. To write a book about everyday food that was both healthy and quick and delicious was a real challenge but one that I enjoyed. It was the hardest book I've had to write in 14 years and I absolutely put my heart and soul into it."
Penguin UK CEO Tom Weldon added: "It is a great achievement to make it to Christmas number one, let alone to do it three years in a row.
The Christmas top 10 was packed with non-fiction, with autobiographies from Miranda Hart, Rod Stewart, Cheryl Cole and BBC Sports Personality of the Year Bradley Wiggins all jostling for position. The bestselling celebrity – Oliver aside – was Hart, in third place for her memoir Is It Just Me?, with sales of 52,500, followed by Wiggins' My Time in fifth, Rod: The Autobiography in seventh and Cheryl: My Story in ninth. This has been a strong autumn for the celebrity autobiography genre. Although sales have fallen for the last four years, from a peak of £51.5m in 2008 to £24.1m last year, the Bookseller's charts editor Philip Stone believes they are now reviving. "After a shocker in 2011 and a poor first half in 2012, the celebrities are making a comeback this autumn," he said. "In October [sales] were up a massive 70% year on year – against an overall decline of 7% in the print book sector as a whole. Sales in November are up approximately 30% year on year."
This year's Christmas chart also saw an unexpected surge for a 75-year-old classic. JRR Tolkien's there-and-back-again tale of the adventures of Bilbo Baggins, The Hobbit, is enjoying a huge boost following the release of the first instalment of Peter Jackson's three-part film adaptation, and came fourth in the Christmas chart with sales of 48,154 copies. Jeff Kinney's new instalment of his Wimpy Kid series for children, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Third Wheel, claimed the sixth spot, while No 10 was filled by a spin-off of 2012's runaway success story, Fifty Shades of Grey. Sales of 24,671 copies in the week leading to Christmas for Fifty Shades of Grey: A Parody: Erotica for the Not-too-Modern Male, show that the "Grey" brand remains strong.
The Casual Vacancy failed to make the Christmas top 10, despite selling 21,416 copies in Christmas week. It reached No 18.
Christmas bestsellers: the top 10
Jamie's 15-Minute Meals by Jamie Oliver (Michael Joseph) - 117,911 copies
Guinness World Records 2013 (Guinness World Records) - 55,494 copies
Is it Just Me? by Miranda Hart (Hodder & Stoughton) - 52, 500 copies
The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien (HarperCollins) - 48, 154 copies
Bradley Wiggins: My Time: An Autobiography by Bradley Wiggins (Yellow Jersey) - 43,446 copies
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Third Wheel by Jeff Kinney (Puffin) - 42,134 copies
Rod: The Autobiography by Rod Stewart (Century) - 32,754 copies
A Street Cat Named Bob by James Bowen (Hodder) - 30, 941 copies
Cheryl: My Story by Cheryl Cole - 26,099 copies
Fifty Sheds of Grey: A Parody: Erotica for the Not-too-modern Male by CT Grey (Boxtree) - 24,671 copies