Week 50/21 – week ending 10 December

Bloomsbury unveils plans for Harry Potter’s 25th

Bloomsbury has unveiled early plans for the celebration of the 25th anniversary of publication of JK Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, the first novel in her record-breaking seven-novel sequence.

A silver anniversary paperback edition of the novel, illustrated by Jonny Duddle and emblazoned with a lightning strike silver foil livery, will be out on 20 January. In June, Bloomsbury publishes an anniversary hardback edition featuring the original 1997 cover design and artwork by Thomas Taylor. The edition will include new bonus material.

Thursday 3 February is Harry Potter Book Night, with a “magical journeys” theme. An event pack is available to download. Also this day, Bloomsbury launches an anniversary campaign with the National Literacy Trust (NLT): “Miles of Magic: The Harry Potter Book Relay” and the “Harry Potter Reading Challenge”.

In the relay, a single copy of the silver anniversary paperback will travel to 25 primary schools from February to June, starting at the Manchester Central Library, where three local primary schools will take part in a day of Harry Potter activities. The Harry Potter Reading Challenge will offer schools a downloadable challenge-o-meter map illustrating key points on a reading journey, which may also be charted as stages in a reading log. Bloomsbury will donate 800 copies of the Jonny Duddle anniversary edition to schools via the NLT’s Young Readers Programme.

Other plans include a tie-up with World Book Day (3 March), also celebrating its 25th birthday.

Overdrive reveals most borrowed digital titles

Library ebook distributor Overdrive has released its lists of the most borrowed ebooks and audiobooks in UK public libraries in 2021. Overdrive says it provides more than 3,000 libraries with ebook, audiobook, digital magazine and digital newspaper access, and that use of online services “is continuing to grow”.

1  The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman
2  The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
3  Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro
4  The Secret, Book & Scone Society by Ellery Adams
5  Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart
6  The Sentinel by Lee Child
7  The Darkest Evening by Ann Cleeves
8  Five Total Strangers by Natalie D Richards
9  Grown Ups by Marian Keyes
10  Bridgerton Collection, Volume 1 by Julia Quinn

1  Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling
2  Cold Mourning by Brenda Chapman
3  A Song for the Dark Times by Ian Rankin
4  Becoming by Michelle Obama
5  Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro
6  The Coffinmaker’s Garden by Stuart MacBride
7  Mythos by Stephen Fry
8  Butterfly Kills by Brenda Chapman
9  Grown Ups by Marian Keyes
10  Still Life by Val McDermid

Death no barrier for Wilbur Smith

Bonnier announced the new novel, Storm Tide, earlier this morning. ‘The sequel to Ghost Fire, it is in the Birds of Prey sequence of the Courtney family saga/series. Wilbur was particularly excited by this new Courtney adventure, and it is fitting that this posthumous publication marks the milestone of 50 books published.’ Storm Tide will be published next April by Bonnier Zaffre as a £20 hardback.

Smith’s widow Niso Smith said: “Wilbur worked without much rest over the past 10 years as he was very eager to share his characters’ activities in his fictional universe. He researched endlessly and made notes, outline after outline, so his imagination and his characters’ lives could be carried on for many years to come. Storm Tide is the first of numerous titles he crafted and finished before he passed. I hope you enjoy it as much as he enjoyed working on it.” Smith died last month at the age of 88.

In its publication annoucement Bonnier said: ‘As he had always hoped, Wilbur Smith was writing until the very day he died. His prolific output was supported in later years by co-authors, to ensure the adventures he had planned out could be realised. He leaves behind a treasure-trove of novels, as well as completed and yet to be published co-authored books and outlines for future stories, which we look forward to sharing with fans for years to come.’

The publisher also released a plot summary of the new title. ‘Fans and readers have a treat in store. 1774. Rob Courtney has spent his whole life in a quiet trading outpost on the east coast of Africa, dreaming of a life of adventure at sea. When his grandfather Jim dies, Rob takes his chance and stows away on a ship as it sails to England, with only the family
heirloom, the Neptune Sword, to his name.

‘Arriving in London, Rob is seduced by the charms of the big city and soon finds himself desperate and penniless. That is until the navy comes calling. Rob is sent across the Atlantic on a ship to join the war against the rebellious American colonists. But on the other side of the Atlantic, unbeknownst to Rob, his distant cousins Cal and Aidan Courtney are leading a campaign against the British. Their one desire is American independence, and they are determined to drive the British out of America – by whatever means necessary…

‘A powerful new historical thriller by the master of adventure fiction, Wilbur Smith, of families divided and a country on the brink of revolution.’

Kate Parkin, managing director of Adult Trade Publishing, said: “with page-turning action, spectacular set-piece scenes and the tension of a country on the brink of revolution at its heart, Storm Tide sees Wilbur Smith writing at the very height of his powers.”

Further details of all future publications and upcoming events celebrating the life and works of Wilbur Smith will be shared in due course via the official Wilbur Smith Readers’ Club and social channels.