Showing posts from August, 2010

Magic opportunity for small publisher

It is a sad consequence of the effect of the recession on the book business that even great stories told by famous names might struggle to make it into print as publishers become increasingly anxious to avoid taking risks. The life of Garry Birtles, the carpet fitter who became a double European Cup winner with Nottingham Forest and then Manchester United’s most expensive player, is a terrific tale that has begged to be told -- but almost 20 years after his last professional game it might be hard to convince a commissioning editor worried about his margins to agree. Happily, publishing does not begin and end with the big London houses and the Garry Birtles story is now sitting on bookshop shelves thanks to a three-way collaboration that will, with luck, provide more evidence that, in the sports book business, small can be beautiful -- and, more to the point, profitable. My Magic Carpet Ride , just released by Reid Publishing , has seen the light of day after Birtles teamed up wi

Wagh of words turns to the law

When batsman Mark Wagh recorded his thoughts in a diary of the 2008 English cricket season ( Pavilion to Crease... and Back ; Fairfield Books), it looked like the army of ex-players occupying Press Boxes around the country would be swelled by another recruit before much longer. Wagh’s honest and well-written account of a season with his county, Nottinghamshire, was spoken of in the same breath as previously acclaimed work by Jonathan Agnew, Ed Smith and Simon Hughes, all of whom have gone on to establish careers in the media or, in the case of Smith, write a number of books. But when, after scoring nearly 12,000 first-class runs, Wagh puts his bat away for good next summer it will be for a career in the law rather than journalism. “I did think about journalism because I do enjoy writing,” Wagh said. “But while I enjoy playing cricket I’m not a great watcher and I wondered if it might be a bit of a lonely existence, with just a laptop for company a lot of the time. “I also lo

Promised Lane: The Reinvention of Leeds United, by Anthony Clavane: football story interwoven with social history is a triumph

According to sources that can be regarded with at least reasonable confidence as authoritative, there have been some 278 books written that can de described, one way or another, as being about Leeds United. Among those are some fine works and many that are more run of the mill, yet to stand out from the crowd still requires something special.  Anthony Clavane has pulled it off with Promised Land: The Reinvention of Leeds United, published today (August 19th) under Random House’s Yellow Jersey imprint. The title is no throwaway line.   It was inspired by a sign that once hung inside Leeds railway station bearing the words: ‘Leeds, the Promised Land delivered’ but, as the reader discovers quickly as he or she is drawn into a compelling narrative, the phrase has a particular resonance for the author. Clavane grew up within a substantial and upwardly mobile Jewish community in Leeds in the 1960s and 70s and the book he has produced is a story about much more than a football club.

Trescothick "enjoying life now"

This time a year ago, cricketer Marcus Trescothick was back in Taunton after Twenty20 finals weekend knowing that within a few weeks he would have to make an agonisingly difficult decision about whether he could represent his county, Somerset, on one of the biggest occasions in their history. In finishing runners-up to Sussex, Somerset had qualified to play later in the autumn in the Champions League, the new multi-national Twenty20 tournament to be played in India, with a staggering $2.5 million on offer to the winners. Trescothick faced a dilemma because while he was a key player for Somerset he had twice been forced to return home from England tours because of a depression-type illness manifesting itself in anxiety attacks.  Subsequently, he was been unable to board a plane for a pre-season tour with his county for the same reason. Last year he took the brave decision to travel to the Champions League tournament but again was forced to return home early and announced soon aft

'Wild swimming' books make a splash

Booksellers have reported a wave of sales in swimming titles -- although Britain’s medal successes in the pool at the European championships has nothing to do with it. The surge of interest has followed the broadcast of the BBC Four programme 'Wild Swimming with Alice Roberts'. The show was based on Waterlog, the account by the writer and documentary maker Roger Deakin of an attempt to swim through the British Isles.  Originally published in 1999, it enjoyed a 345 per cent week-on-week sales boost in the wake of the BBC exposure. According to The Bookseller , sales for the week ending July 31st were 149 copies before leaping to 663 copies the following week. Other titles also enjoyed improved sales. Punk Publishing's Wild Swimming sales jumped by almost 90 per cent week on week, from 214 copies to 406. Jonathan Knight, publisher at Punk, said: "Sales of Daniel Start's Wild Swimming have been consistently good but the recent coverage has given us a real

Kindle ignites new market for sports books

The demise of the book as we know it is almost certainly many years away still but ebook sales are about to enjoy a surge as a price war develops in the ebook reader market. The latest version of the Amazon Kindle reader will become available in the UK from August 27th, with a Wi-Fi enabled model to retail at £109. In response, Waterstone's have slashed the price of their Sony Pocket Edition e-book reader to £99.99, making it the cheapest on the market. For an extra £40, Amazon customers can obtain a Kindle with worldwide 3G connectivity in at the price, with no annual contract or subscription. The number of sports titles available so far is relatively small but still numbers almost 6,000.  Heavily illustrated books are not ideal for a 6ins screen but text-heavy titles will lend themselves to the format well. The Kindle measures 190mm long and 123mm wide, with a thickness of 8.5mm.  At 247 grams, it weighs less than a paperback. The big advantage over paper is that on

Yorkshire fans queue as 'Magnificents' team up again

Author Andrew Collomosse could hardly have picked a more receptive audience if he had drawn up the invitation list himself as publishers Great Northern Books organised a book signing for his look back at Yorkshire cricket’s golden 1960s to coincide with past players’ day at Headingley during Yorkshire’s match against Nottinghamshire. Guests at the Professional Cricketers’ Association’s annual gathering included a dozen members of the Yorkshire teams that won seven County Championships between 1959 and 1968, whose recollections of that period were assembled by Collomosse in his Magnificent Seven book. A long queue quickly formed in the Premier Suite in Headingley’s Old Pavilion as Ray Illingworth, Brian Close, Phillip Sharpe, Bryan Stott, Ken Taylor, John Hampshire, Geoff Cope, Don Wilson and Richard Hutton took turns to sign copies of the book, boxes of which were emptying fast behind a long trestle table. Magnificent Seven tells the story of 11 seasons between 1959 and 1969, ta

Bumble fans in a rush to Start the Car

Cricket commentator David Lloyd’s invitation to readers to buy his book in support of a good cause has found favour with legions of his supporters, even though, as he unashamedly admits, the good cause in question is merely the ‘the David Lloyd retirement fund.’ Start the Car: The World According to Bumble has been the summer’s best-selling sports book, with sales of around 14,250 copies in less than 10 weeks, according to publishers HarperSport. In the present climate, in which sports books commissioned for millions of pounds have been selling sometimes only in hundreds, the figures for former England coach Lloyd’s mixture of serious and semi-serious observations are extraordinary. They also signal a shift away from the traditional format for sports autobiographies, giving fans the chance to appreciate the quirkier side of top-level performers that they might otherwise never see. Matthew Hoggard helped establish the trend last year with Hoggy: Welcome to My World , which was