Jamie Oliver and Phil Collins will do battle against Ladybird and the Danish concept of hygge in the race to be Christmas No 1 in the UK book charts, which begins in earnest with the release of more than 200 festive contenders.
This â€œSuper Thursdayâ€, as The Bookseller magazine dubs it, sees 219 new books are published, many of which are expected to be Christmas bestsellers.
Oliver, who last took the festive No 1 spot in 2012 with Jamieâ€™s 15-Minute Meals, is in the running this year with his Christmas Cookbook. â€œI havenâ€™t held back. This book is the greatest hits, all wrapped up in one Christmas parcel,â€ the TV chef promises.
Among the celebrity autobiographies is Collinsâ€™ Not Dead Yet, which is a â€œcandid, witty, unvarnished story of the songs and shows, the hits and pans, his marriages and divorces, the ascents to the top of the charts and into the tabloid headlinesâ€, according to its publisher.
Daredevil Guy Martinâ€™s offering, Worms to Catch, is tipped to rise up the bestseller list; as is Nomad, the fictional memoir from Steve Cooganâ€™s alter ego Alan Partridge, in whichthe Radio Norwich DJ â€œdons his boots, windcheater and scarf and embarks on an odyssey through a place he once knew â€“ itâ€™s called Britain â€“ intent on completing a journey of immense personal significanceâ€.
Alan Bennettâ€™s third collection of prose, Keeping On Keeping On, is also out on Thursday and contains his diaries from 2005 to 2015.
On the fiction front, queen of crime and perennial bestseller Martina Cole publishes her 23rd novel, Betrayal, while Baileys prize-winner Ali Smith releases Autumn and Patricia Cornwell sends her medical examiner Kay Scarpetta on her 24th adventure in Chaos.
Although Super Thursday usually offers bookshops across the UK a guide of which titles will dominate the Christmas charts, this year they are expected to face stiff competition from earlier releases.
â€œThis year Super Thursday stands out a little less than in the past, but in a positive way â€“ this year itâ€™s as though there has been a whole season of Super Thursdays,â€ said Nic Bottomley of the Bath independent bookshop Mr Bâ€™s Emporium of Reading Delights.
â€œIan McEwanâ€™s Nutshell came out earlier in the season this year, Bruce Springsteenâ€™s Born To Run came out on a Tuesday [last month],â€ he said, adding: â€œYes tomorrow is a big focus point, but it has been a bit more staggered.â€
Debbie James, owner of The Bookshop Kibworth, agreed. â€œThis year there have been several days of big book releases, so it feels like there have been lots of Super Thursdays, which is a great thing for bookshops,â€ she said. The UK and Ireland celebrated the first Bookshop Day on 8 October, with about 2,000 bookshops taking part in the campaign organised by Books Are My Bag.
Super Thursday also sees the release of an armload of books exploring the Danish concept of hygge, which roughly translates as cosiness. Whether it is Scandinavian Comfort Food: Embracing the Art of Hygge, Hygge: A Celebration of Simple Pleasures, How to Hygge: The Secrets of Nordic Living, or Hygge: The Danish Art of Happiness, our desire to be hyggelig can be met in full from today.
Booksellers are also expecting big things from Ladybird, which is publishing a new tranche of parody titles featuring artwork from its archives, in homage to the its childrenâ€™s books of the 1960s and 1970s. After the childrenâ€™s publisher topped the Christmas charts last year with How It Works: The Husband â€“ â€œhe may look complicated, but he is in fact very simple. He runs on sausages and beerâ€ â€“ it has seven new titles appealing to the same market, including How it Works: The Cat, The Ladybird Book of the People Next Door, the Sickie, and the Zombie Apocalypse.
This year, however, the Ladybird books will face fierce competition from a raft of Famous Five titles catering to the same market, from Five Go On A Strategy Away Day to Five on Brexit Island â€“ â€œit is the night of the referendum and the Five have retired to Kirrin Island to enjoy the fresh air and sunshine, fed up with the rancour of public debate. George is firmly a â€˜remainerâ€™, whilst Julian, who is in the â€˜Brexitâ€™ camp, is tolerated on the grounds that Anne cannot bear to go camping without himâ€. Those will be publish early next month.
â€œThe new Ladybirds arrived yesterday and are a hit already. The Zombie Apocalypse is perfect timing for Halloween and great for occasions and for individuals as gifts. The one-page joke is an easy one for customers to get,â€ said Helen Stanton of Forum Books in Corbridge.
For that reasonâ€œthe new Famous Five books may have the edge on Ladybirdâ€™s parody series this yearâ€, said James. She predicted predicting that Five on Brexit Island could do particularly well on the sales front. â€œHowever, the competition is going to be fierce â€“ it could be like Blur versus Oasis all over again,â€ she added.
Richard Humphreys, non-fiction buyer at Waterstones, said: â€œWe are very excited about the new Famous Five parodies, the subjects seem appealing and it will be very interesting to see how they shape up against the publishing juggernaut of the Ladybird humour books,.â€
Jasper Sutcliffe, head of buying at independent bookshop chain Foyles, said 2016 festive period looked like it was going to be â€œa Christmas of national treasures, from Jamie Oliver to Alan Bennett, Martina Cole to Phil Collinsâ€.
Sutcliffe also tipped Grayson Perryâ€™s The Descent of Man, saying it was â€œa particular highlight for usâ€. Describing it as â€œamazing, insightful, accessible and personalâ€, he added: â€œThereâ€™s been a public conversation about femininity for some time now, so itâ€™s only fair we do the same for men.â€
Stanton picked Bennettâ€™s Keeping On Keeping On as her tip for a possible No 1, calling it â€œgood for us and good across the book trade. Jamie Oliver will also sell very well, but more so in supermarkets and high street chains than independents.â€
She also pointed out Meetings With Remarkable Manuscripts, Christopher de Hamelâ€™s exploration of medieval manuscripts, as a strong seller for her independent bookshop, and said she was looking forward to the release of Robert Seethalerâ€™s novel The Tobacconist.
â€œSuper Thursday always feels like Christmas come early for booksellers and anything which gets the wider world talking about books can only be positive. On the non-fiction and fiction sides respectively, only a fool would bet against Alan Bennett, Guy Martin, Jamie Oliver and Martina Cole, and clearly the new tranche of Ladybird books will provide rocket boosters to humour sales,â€ said Chris White, Waterstones fiction buyer.