Sceptre pulls out of Sunnyside exclusive

Nicholas Clee
News - Publishing 27 Feb 2009

Sceptre has responded to pressure from booksellers and pulled out of the deal to supply a Waterstone's exclusive edition of Glen David Gold's novel Sunnyside (). The hardback was to have appeared in July, three months before Sceptre brought out the trade-wide, paperback edition. A statement from the publisher said: 'Sceptre, with the agreement of Waterstone s, today announced that Glen David Gold's novel Sunnyside will be published in June (rather than July as previously announced) and will be available throughout the UK book trade. The trade paperback will be published in September. Sceptre already has in place extensive marketing plans for the trade paperback which include giving away five copies of the book to any bookseller who applies, special point of sale material and signed copies of the novel.'


It was possible to sympathise with the motivation of all sides in this case. For Waterstone's, the attraction of an exclusive was obvious, while any rival bookseller was certain to feel infuriated at being unable to sell a work by an author who - while not in the sales league of his wife, Alice Sebold - had done well in the past. And Sceptre would have calculated that, had the experiment proved successful, the overall sales of Sunnyside - including through independent outlets - would have been higher than otherwise.
However, for the publisher, the loss of goodwill over the deal soon outweighed other considerations. Sceptre and its parent Hachette may have been wary, too, of the possible incursion of US editions, particularly as Hodder does not hold exclusive European rights in the novel.
Sceptre said: 'We underestimated the level of commitment to the hardback from the independent sector and we recognise that not all were convinced by our strategy of creating a bestseller in the trade and mass-market paperback editions.'
Hachette CEO Tim Hely Hutchinson - who, the Bookseller reported, announced the termination of the exclusive deal on Radio 4's Today programme - commented: It was our intention to raise the profile of this wonderful author and to get attention for his new novel. We have certainly done that! Carter Beats the Devil [Gold's 2001 debut] introduced Glen David Gold to a fairly small but enthusiastic audience and we can now look forward to the publication of Sunnyside in the knowledge that it will reach a much wide readership with the full support of every sector of the book trade.'

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