Bookseller Briefing 17/19 – week ending 26 April

PRH US launches Reader Loyalty Programme

Penguin Random House in the US has launched a ‘Reader Rewards Loyalty Program’, a free promotional initiative that lets readers earn one free book for every 12 PRH titles they purchase.

Sanyu Dillon, executive v.p. and director of marketing strategy and consumer engagement, said that the publisher’s research “shows that today’s consumer expects to be rewarded by the brands they purchase from frequently, and this program delivers an initial step toward building deeper, more meaningful relationships with readers,” , according toPublishers Marketplace.

Readers aged 18 and above can register for an account for free through the PRH website, and submit evidence of purchases — in any format, from any US retailer — to earn points, posted to accounts within 72 hours. The “majority” of PRH titles are eligible for points and each uploaded purchase is worth 10 Program points, meaning they earn a free book for every 12 titles.

Members are limited to earning a maximum of 720 points in a given calendar year and the points need to be used within two years.

The company says in the announcement that it also “has begun planning the next phase of the Reader Rewards Loyalty Program, along with further enhancements, and a series of special events in collaboration with retailers and partners nationwide”.

HarperCollins reveals new true crime podcast

HarperCollins Publishers and the London-based broadcasting network Wireless are partnering on a true crime podcast based on Murder in the Graveyard, a new book by British author and journalist Don Hale.

The book and podcast venture explores the Stephen Downing case, the longest miscarriage of justice in British legal history.

HarperNonFiction publishing strategy director Oli Malcolm acquired world rights for the Murder in the Graveyard book from Jeffrey Simmons at the Jeffrey Simmons Literary Agency. The book will be published on 13th June 2019, alongside the first episode of an eight-part accompanying podcast, released as part of Wireless’ new True Crime podcast series “The Reporter”.

Stephen Downing was convicted and indefinitely sentenced in September 1973  for the murder of Wendy Sewell, a legal secretary in the town of Bakewell in the Peak District. She was attacked in broad daylight in Bakewell Cemetery. Stephen Downing, the 17-year-old groundskeeper with learning difficulties and a reading age of 11, was the prime suspect.

“He was immediately arrested, questioned for nine hours without a solicitor present, and pressured into signing a confession full of words he did not understand,” HarperCollins said. “Twenty-one years later local newspaper editor Don Hale was thrust into the case. Determined to take it to appeal, as he investigated the details, he found himself inextricably linked to the narrative. In 2002, Stephen Downing was finally acquitted, having served 27 years in prison. Later that year Don published an account of his fight to clear Stephen’s name. Now, 17 years later, Don has written a fully updated and revised account, shedding fascinating light on his long, dedicated and often dangerous campaign to rescue a long-forgotten victim.”

“The Murder in the Graveyard” podcast will present a series of new interviews, through which listeners will be given “a unique insight” into Hale’s fight for justice, with members of the Bakewell community coming forward for the first time to reflect upon a case that remains unsolved. The podcast will feature eight episodes which will be released weekly and available on all well-known podcast platforms.

Malcolm said: “Of all the recent true crime series, none are as resonant, nor as compelling, as Murder in the Graveyard – the true story of a brutal murder, a forced confession, and the longest miscarriage of justice in British legal history.”

Jimmy Buckland, m.d. of Wireless Studios, said: “Listeners will be enthralled by Don Hale’s quest to unravel the secrets behind the Murder in the Graveyard. The case remains unsolved, and seventeen years after Steven Downing’s release important questions remain unanswered. There could be no more fitting story with which to launch our new investigative podcast Reporter than with this account of one courageous journalist’s campaign to expose the truth.”

Hale says: “Murder in the Graveyard is a quintessential British murder mystery dating back to 1973, and reveals my challenging quest to discover fresh evidence to help quash the conviction of a young man jailed for over 27 years for a crime he did not commit. It highlights my difficult and at times, very dangerous journey to seek the truth, despite death threats, intimidation, violent attacks, and a determination by the authorities to keep a lid on the case.

“HarperCollins has allowed me to review my original notes, to tell my personal story, and to highlight the remarkable roller-coaster journey that made such an impact on UK and European Law.”

He added that the podcast “introduces many varied characters involved with the campaign, and brings to life a mixed bag of opinions, facts and controversies that have haunted this fascinating case for nearly 50 years”.

A Clockwork Orange ‘sequel’ found in Burgess archive

The sequel to A Clockwork Orange has been unearthed in the archives of its author, Anthony Burgess. 

Andrew Biswell, professor of modern literature at Manchester Metropolitan University and author of a biography of Burgess,  discovered The Clockwork Condition, an unfinished 200-page manuscript, written by Burgess as a response to the moral panic surrounding Stanley Kubrick’s 1971 cinema adaptation of A Clockwork Orange.

Burgess’s non-fiction manuscript was found among papers abandoned in his house in Bracciano, near Rome, where he moved in the early 1970s. The archive, which is now being catalogued, was transferred to the Burgess Foundation in Manchester when the house was sold after Burgess’s death in 1993. 

Professor Biswell, who is also director of the International Anthony Burgess Foundation in Manchester, said: “This remarkable unpublished sequel to A Clockwork Orange sheds new light on Burgess, Kubrick and the controversy surrounding the notorious novel. This is a very exciting discovery. Burgess’s only public reference to The Clockwork Condition was in a 1975 interview where he suggested that it had not developed beyond the idea stage. Part philosophical reflection and part autobiography, The Clockwork Condition provides a context for Burgess’s most famous work, and amplifies his views on crime, punishment and the possible corrupting effects of visual culture. It also casts fresh light on Burgess’s complicated relationship with his own Clockwork Orange novel, a work that he went on revisiting until the end of his life. As the film is re-released in UK cinemas and the Design Museum launches a major Stanley Kubrick exhibition in April, now is the right moment to re-examine Burgess’s complex and celebrated book.”

Burgess described The Clockwork Condition as a “major philosophical statement on the contemporary human condition”. The book survives as a series of typewritten drafts, notes and outlines, in which Burgess develops ideas from his original novel, addresses the controversy surrounding Kubrick’s film, and puts forward new arguments about the possible dangers of technology and visual culture, especially film and television. But as the book project grew, Burgess’s increased popularity following the film led him to take on a large number of other writing commitments.

Professor Biswell said: “Eventually Burgess came to realise that the proposed non-fiction book was beyond his capabilities, as he was a novelist and not a philosopher. It was then suggested that he should publish a diary under the title ‘The Year of the Clockwork Orange’, but this project was also abandoned. Instead he wrote a short autobiographical novel, which also features ‘clockwork’ in the title – The Clockwork Testament. Published as an illustrated novel in 1974, the book engages with the same thematic material he had intended to use in The Clockwork Condition, such as good and evil, original sin, and the problems of modernity and violence. In theory it would be possible to create a publishable version of The Clockwork Condition. There is enough material present in the drafts and outlines to give a reasonably clear impression of what this lost Burgess book might have been.”

A Clockwork Orange was published in 1962 by William Heinemann UK, which retains the hardback rights, with Penguin the publisher of the paperback and e-book editions.