The news that Richard and Judy are moving to tinpot digital satellite channel UKTV has sent shockwaves through the publishing world. R&J - and their producer Amanda Ross - are among the most influential people in publishing due to the phenomenally successful Richard & Judy Book Club. The Book Club initiative, I'm saying, has been a very good thing. Persuading thousands of Tesco shoppers to buy David Mitchell's fantastic Cloud Atlas is reason enough for it to exist. But, with R&J's show set to lose a predicted 1.5 million viewers following the switch, will their influence remain? I think it will. The Book Club will no doubt continue, as will the practice of stickering their picks. Stickered titles will continue to be favoured by buyers, enjoy prime instore placement, and be pushed by supermarkets. Punters will see the stickers and buy the books, whether or not they've seen the show.
Thinking on, I'm pretty sure I've never seen a full episode of Richard and Judy, but I'm aware of the books that have been selected for the Book Club. Like a TV equivalent of David Beckham moving to LA Galaxy, R&J's transfer to the very fringes of tellyland can at least partly be explained by the fact that they will pocket a hefty retirement package (£1 million each). The TV show might well become an irrelevance, but the Book Club will continue to influence the publishing industry, for better or for worse, for a time to come.
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