Sunday, September 06, 2020

Drowning in Books on Not-So-Super Thursday

Tristram Fane Saunders

A little throwaway article by Tristram Fane Saunders in the Culture section of London's The Telegraph made me chuckle a little about the publishing industry's "Super Thursday" book drop in the U.K. According to Saunders, this is an annual event that happens every October there, but it came early this year. 600 books published on the same day, just in time for all the Christmas season marketing to kick in. What a nightmare that must be for publishers, critics, and retailers.

Arts critic Saunders reacted this way:

"I know, I know – every year book critics complain that there are just too many books. But this year, they might have a point. Won’t somebody think of the trees?
Burning the Books by Bodleian librarian Richard Ovenden (published today, and serialised as Radio 4’s Book of the Week) draws solemn lessons from conflagrations of the past. And yet, faced with today’s vast pile of reading-matter, its title sounds less like a warning than an alluring suggestion."

I imagine that publishing delays associated with the COVID-19 outbreak had a lot to do with so many books hitting the stores all at once, but I don't envy the professionals having to make sense of so many at the same time.

I know that we go through a similar marketing push in this country when dozens and dozens of new books all seem to hit the bookstores at the same time. I always find in amusing that so many books are hollering at the same time for a piece of my already-strained book-buying-money, but there they are anyway. I usually snap a picture of all the interesting ones that I know I won't be able to afford (or find the space for) so that I can request them from my library before too many others notice them first.

And the ones that I really want for my shelves, immediately go on a list of "bargain books" to watch for in the future. You can usually count on Christmas season books to be over-published, meaning that when the books reach the paperback stage of their life cycle, publishers will be practically giving away the hardcover remainders. Then I can celebrate as if it's Christmas all over again. 


  1. I stick 'em on a 'wait until they're cheap on Kindle' list. Surprising how often they end up at 99p after just a few months. The other thing is I'm not always a huge fan of lots of newly published books, quite a few disappoint in the writing or go somewhere that makes you roll your eyes. I might be becoming a bit stuck in my ways. LOL

    1. Same here, Cath. I've found that if you read too many recently published books, there is a good chance that they will disappoint because of the tendency of too many writers to jump on whatever is the hot topic of the day. (That said, I made that mistake this year already.)

  2. Another one who waits for bargains! Most books don't deserve a second read, no matter how eager I am when they are released. Who can afford to buy at full price all the books they want to read?

    1. That made me think just how few books I've actually read twice, much less five or six times. I'll bet it's no more than 15 or 20. And probably none more than three or four times. Coincidentally, I'm reading one for the third time right now, a scifi novel by Philip Jose Farmer.