Richard Madeley and Judy Finnegan present a popular late-afternoon magazine show on Channel 4 in the UK. One particular feature, the Richard and Judy Book Club has become something of a phenomenon, turning the presenters into a couple of the most powerful figures in UK publishing. It has become so popular with viewers that the major literary publishers are clamouring to get their book titles included on the short list.
The Richard and Judy Book Club is now entering its fourth year. The programmes executive producer Amanda Ross dreamt up the idea as a means of making reading popular again. With the advent of modern technology, not least the internet, fewer people are enjoying the experience of settling down and reading a good book. The Richard and Judy Book Club aims to shortlist a selection of 10 fiction titles which will appeal to the widest possible market, and that viewers will want to take away with them on holiday to enjoy whilst lounging in the sun on the beach or by the pool. The format is similar to the book club that Oprah Winfrey features on her show and has generated a tremendous following in the States. The books are reviewed and discussed on the show over 10 weeks, where viewers are actively encouraged to participate and give their reviews.
The Richard and Judy Book Club has proved to be an extraordinary success; having already made 10 authors into millionaires, it virtually guarantees bestseller status for the book titles selected on the featured list. With this unparalleled popularity, it seems that the Richard and Judy Book Club is the literary shortlist that really matters, eclipsing the Booker Prize or the Whitbread Book Awards when it comes to the potential sales boost and author popularity that comes with being featured on the shortlist. The list is often an eclectic mix of books, including established authors, complete unknowns and newcomers alike.
Publishers are literally falling over themselves to get their books and authors featured on the show. Last year, the 10 titles were selected from over 500 books submitted by publishers; this year the programme makers have received over 1400 titles to read and choose a final list of 10 books for the Book Club. Reviewing so many titles is an unenviable task, requiring a team of people to read them all before the final list is announced.
The now prestigious title of Richard and Judy Book Club Book of the Year is announced at the annual Galaxy British Book Awards ceremony, and is eagerly awaited. In 2007, winner was the sensational novel, The Interpretation of Murder by Jed Rubenfeld. The next shortlist is announced in mid-June 2007, the publishing world holds its breath to see if the book they submitted is featured in the list.
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