Showing posts from January, 2013

Have forensic website sleuths blown The Secret Footballer's cover?

With almost 50,000 copies sold, I Am The Secret Footballer was second only to the perennially popular Match Magazine annual as the biggest-selling football book of 2012. A spin-off from the Guardian newspaper column of the same name, I Am   The Secret Footballer: Lifting the Lid on the Beautiful Game sold 15,000 more copies than Steven Gerrard's My Liverpool Story and enjoyed almost double the sales of Wayne Rooney's My Decade in the Premier League. Part of that success clearly stemmed from the kind of revelations the author felt safe to share from behind his cloak of anonymity, detailing the pressures and pleasures that come with being young and loaded. There are some serious messages, emphasising how a life of luxury cars and expensive jewellery funded by enormous salaries cannot always be a shield against corrosive self-doubt.  The Secret Footballer himself claims to have suffered from depression. On the other hand, tossing in the spicy details of an unnamed f

Rise in ebooks claims a casualty as DB Publishing boss decides to abandon print for digital

It is still hard to imagine a day when sports books in their traditional printed form do not exist but with the growing popularity of ebooks comes a warning that such an eventuality may not be as far-fetched as it might once have seemed. The rise of the ebook has been blamed for the decision taken by one long-standing publisher to abandon print books altogether and concentrate solely on the ebook market. DB Publishing, the Derby-based concern that began life 30 years ago as Breedon Books, has closed down after managing director Steve Caron took the "difficult decision" to focus his attention solely on DB's digital offshoot, JMD Media. Caron said: “Our intention had been to sell ebooks alongside our printed publications. But the e-book market has grown so much that it got to a point where it was affecting demand for conventional books.” The closure comes despite DB transferring hundreds of its titles to ebooks, making them available to readers to download to devi

After Clough fallout, The Damned United author David Peace turns his novelist's eye to Shankly

Controversial author David Peace, who generated both anger and acclaim with his fictional account of Brian Clough's torrid 44 days as Leeds United manager, is to place another football legend at the heart of a novel. Almost six years after his dark portrayal of Clough's imagined inner torment in The Damned United, Peace has turned his attention to a man whose greatness he makes no attempt to deny, the former Liverpool manager, Bill Shankly. Red or Dead, to be published by Faber in August -- a month ahead of the centenary of Shankly's birth -- will focus on how Shankly, who had previously managed Carlisle United, Workington, Grimsby Town and Huddersfield Town, emerged from relative obscurity to transform then down-at-heel Liverpool into the team that would dominate English football and conquer Europe. It will dwell, too, on Shankly's life after Liverpool, following his surprise decision to retire in 1974, which to an extent was a rather sad time, in which he st

Neville's Red and tales of The Didi Man among pick of the year's football autobiographies

It is easy to deride football biographies and many reviewers do so with justification, although they sometimes forget that the target audience may be have chosen mindful of fans more concerned with reading a paean to their favourite superstar than any masterpiece of insightful sports literature. Neither the picture-driven Steven Gerrard: My Liverpool Story nor the easy-reading Wayne Rooney: My Decade in the Premier League is likely to find itself in contention for any awards, yet between them they sold almost 59,000 copies in 2012, according to Nielsen BookScan, which made them the two most successful books in the football biography sector. At least the 19,000 who parted with money for the paperback edition of Gary Neville's autobiography Red (23,000 if you include sales of the hardback version) had something to read.  Not only that, they had something to talk about too as the former Manchester United and England full back revealed exactly why the punditry career on which

The Wiggins effect - Bradley's the new Beckham as My Time flies off the shelves

Tour de France winner, Olympic time-trial champion, BBC Sports Personality of the Year -- not to mention the small matter of a knighthood -- Bradley Wiggins swept all before him in 2012. It might not come as a major surprise, therefore, that the Wiggins autobiography, My Time, blew the opposition completely off the track in book sales for 2012. Published by Random House under the Yellow Jersey imprint, My Time did not appear in the bookstores until November 8 yet end-of-year sales figures compiled by Nielsen BookScan were almost 230,000, most of those rung up in the six weeks or so leading up to Christmas. To put that number in perspective, My Time's sales accounted for almost a quarter of sales for the whole sports autobiography sector in 2012.  Indeed, if the resurgence in sales enjoyed by the earlier Wiggins life story, In Pursuit of Glory, is taken into account, Britain's all-time greatest cyclist cornered more than a quarter of that market. According to N

Sports book readers taking to digital age as boom in e-books makes up for slump in print sales

Sales of printed books fell by nearly 5 per cent last year with a corresponding rise in e-book downloads as more readers embraced the idea of getting their reading fix via the digital format. With e-readers flying off the shelves in the run-up to Christmas, data from Neilsen BookScan pointed to a decline of £74m in sales of conventional books. The Bookseller reckoned that physical book sales in the final week of 2012 were down 70 per cent compared with the last week of 2011. E-books now account for around 14 per cent of the total market, a rise of five per cent on last year, although the trend towards selling e-books at a fraction of the printed book price led to a fall in the total value of the book market in 2011. Novels remain the big sellers in the digital market, led by E L James's erotic '50 Shades' trilogy, which sold close to 11 million copies in 2012 for £47.3 million, displacing J K Rowling’s 2007 record of £42.6m. According to the Daily Telegraph,

The best sports books of 2012 -- a Sports Bookshelf selection

As we welcome 2013 and a whole new raft of sports literature, time to reflect on the best of 2012, or at least those that appealed most to The Sports Bookshelf. Not surprisingly, the short and longlists from the William Hill Sports Book of the Year awards are well represented, most prominently by the winner of that prize, the extraordinary exposé of chemical cheating that helped bring down one of sport's biggest names in the cyclist Lance Armstrong. In the words of the judges, The Secret Race: Inside the Hidden World of the Tour de France won the William Hill prize for self-confessed doper Tyler Hamilton because it 'fundamentally changed the sport it described' but it stands as a great read, too, irrespective of the impact of its content. Skilfully crafted by the journalist Daniel Coyle, Hamilton's account of his time alongside Armstrong in the US Postal Team has the style and suspense of an espionage novel as Hamilton, who was right at the heart of the most so