Mark’s Say: Putting together the Summer Reading Guide

Readings’ managing director Mark Rubbo tells us what to expect from our 2012 Summer Reading Guide.


Summer Reading Guides 2010 and 2011.

Each year around this time, a group of my colleagues and I gather together with publishers to decide what books we will put in our annual Summer Reading Guide. We see about 20 different publishers and probably close to 1000 books; it’s an interesting process.

At this stage, the finished copies of the books aren’t available, although often advance reading copies are. We listen to the publishers and, after doing this for some time, you have an idea of whose judgement to trust. Our own experience also inevitably always helps us in our choices – for a bookseller the greatest thrill is to pick the book that readers will want to buy, and one that we will love to promote and sell.

We were pleased to see that a Readings bookseller, A.S. Patrić, has a collection of short stories, Las Vegas for Vegans, coming out for Christmas. Author Wayne Macauley has read an advance copy and the publisher showed us his comments: ‘A.S. Patrić is one of our most daring new writers. Las Vegas for Vegans shows how daring he can be.’ Chris Grierson, a former manager of our Port Melbourne shop, has written a book on Squizzy Taylor; John Hunter, Chris’s publisher, describes Touch the Black as poetic.

Last year was a big one for Australian fiction and while there aren’t as many new local works out this season, Michelle de Kretser and Murray Bail both have new novels coming – their first for some time.

Publishing, like most other industries, is always looking for the ‘next big thing’, and Random House bowled us all over when they arrived with some statistics on a series of three erotic books for women by E.L. James. Published at the beginning of April, Fifty Shades of Grey, Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed have sold 2 million copies in Australia. This phenomenon has broken a heap of publishing records here. The printer, Griffin Press, used as much paper as they use in a year in a few months just producing these books. The bestselling Harry Potter books only sold 1.1 million copies in Australia. At the current rate of sale, the Fifty Shades books will have sold 4 million copies in the next month or so (the phenomenal Twilight series sold 4 million copies but that was over a few years). In addition, James has sold 400,000 copies as ebooks.

Penguin have the first in their erotic series out now. It’s called Bared to You by Sylvia Day and they assure us it’s better than Fifty Shades ‘in every way’. We are more interested in a French erotic novel, Monsieur by Emma Becker. A bestseller in France, it describes the relationship between a younger woman and an older man. Independent publisher Scribe has commissioned the English translation, and we can expect to see a heap more in this genre. Just to think, a few years ago the ‘big thing’ was cookbooks – now, it’s erotica.

mark-rubbo Mark Rubbo is the Managing Director of Readings