Saturday, February 07, 2009

Richard and Judy Split Along North/South Divide

Richard and Judy are considered to be the Oprah of the U.K. when it comes to the overnight creation of bestselling books. Like Winfrey, they have a television "book club" used to announce the books they consider most worthy of being read by the masses and have created huge paydays for the writers lucky enough to have their books chosen.

But something interesting is happening in the U.K. where there is a huge sectional difference in how the Richard and Judy choices are perceived. According to the Times Online, those in the north could not care less what Richard and Judy recommend, while those in the south pay strict attention and read as instructed by the pair.
Lending figures for last year suggest that southerners are slaves to Richard & Judy, flocking to their local library to borrow everything they mention. The couple’s recommended titles make up at least half of the ten most-borrowed books in London, the South East, the South West, the East, the East Midlands and the South West.

Northerners, by contrast, pay no attention to them. None of the couple’s recommendations appears in the top ten lists for the North East, the North West and Merseyside, Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales. Readers were much more likely to plump for tried-and-tested books in the crime and romance genres. James Patterson’s hard-boiled thrillers are overwhelmingly popular in the North. Readers in the North East are most likely to select a pulse-quickening romance by Danielle Steel or Josephine Cox.
The reason for the divide is open to speculation, but authors suggested that word-of-mouth recommendations for Richard & Judy books were more likely to become epidemics in the South, where book discussion groups are more popular.
Just when I was ready to congratulate those in the northern part of the U.K. on their ability to choose for themselves, I got to the part of the Times article that mentioned the most popular writers up that way: James Patterson, Danielle Steel and Josephine Cox.

Never mind.

Obviously, those up north would be much better off letting Richard, Judy and Oprah do the choosing on their behalf.


  1. I don't read any of the authors that the readers up north do.

  2. Hum? Wonder if America can be broken down with more Oprah readers in the north or south? Here's a thought. Oprah readers break the country in half by most readers being in the bible belt. East and west coast readers think for themselves?!? It would be hard to qualify since I know a lot of peeps (myself included) who read Oprah books before they get her stamp of approval. *rubbin' chin and thinking very interesting*

  3. Sam -- you're sounding awfully "I know what's better for people!" Are you turning to the left?

  4. Lord, I hope not, Ms. Factotum. It's just that Patterson is number one of my list of least respected writers and Steel is definitely in the top 10 someplace. It always discourages me to see names like those being the most read "authors" out matter where it happens.

  5. I found myself almost speechless, bookfool.

  6. Definitely a plus on your scorecard, Melanie, most definitely a good thing...

  7. Interesting thought, Maggie. I read some of her choices, too, almost always before she chooses them. Her timing would have to be worked into the equation some way, and since we don't keep the kind of library stats here that were used in the British study it would be tougher.

  8. Specifically why I am a devoted follower of your blog; life is too short to read inane books. Please keep reviewing and rating so I can avoid the D. Steels and J. Pattersons of the world.

  9. What a great compliment, Lady of Shalott. Thank you very much.