I know nothing about British literary market but to be honest 20,000 copies seems an awfully small figure.
It appears that even Bond fans don’t read those novels these days. I remember back on the old forum I created a topic with the review of one of the Young Bond novels. Noone replied.
I wonder what were the sales figures of Gardner’s and Benson’s novels back in 80s and 90s.
While I always mention of Box office figures comparisons between the 60’s and present day, that DVD and download sales have impacts on theatrical sales, I completely omitted from my thinking of Kindle books and the sales figures.
Who here bought the hardback or the Kindle version?
The continuation business is difficult for various reasons.
Firstly it’s always regarded as a bit second-rate. No matter how good (or bad) the offering turns out to be, fact is it’s mainly there to cash in on a marquee. As opposed to a story that simply needs to be told because the story demands it.
Continuations are largely ignored by the wider public and critics, except when the publisher puts up a huge marketing effort. Even then the reviews are seldom more than polite. And the books themselves quickly forgotten, regardless if they were authored by big names or nobodies. Isabel Allende, Frederick Forsyth, Eric van Lustbader all produced something more or less official, but really care for their stuff will only the hardcore fans.
A rare example of a successful ‘continuation’ - if the book can be counted as continuation, which is at least doubtful - would be Wicked and its musical adaptation. But here the twist is that the story significantly deviates from the source and isn’t trying to be a part II or a retelling.
Bond faces the extra problem of being now a character from the cinema. Translating him back to the page takes away considerably from the big screen appeal he’s now famous for. And this particular brand of large scale fantasy spy thriller is now an overcrowded genre with several new releases every month. The aficionados of these works didn’t wait for Bond, they’ve got a whole range of characters they follow.
Meanwhile Bond’s literary roots have been exploited since the reboot of the continuations, only that too is largely a business by fans for fans. I haven’t read anything that would urge me to want more of the same, let alone something original or a new take on familiar tropes.
Even when these ‘literary’ efforts try to be more serious, they hardly show up against the backdrop of truly engaging thrillers, whether of the espionage genre or not.
So yes, I think the literary Bond continuation will for the foreseeable future exist in the niche where diehard fans keep up the demand.
EDIT: Good call on the digital market. We may have to thank these devices for getting new releases at all. The cost compared to print is a fracture and the distribution relatively slick.
That said, I don’t think these sales figures don’t yet include e-readers. There is a trend in the figures since Devil May Care; if that trend had been broken by Horowitz we would likely hear about it by IFP announcing a longer contract like they did with Higgson and Cole respectively.
I would agree, but I’m mostly in the glass half full view of I was able to sit and enjoy new Bond novels over 50 years after Ian Fleming passed away. Whether or not they sell to a wide market is irrelevant to me personally, as I am just a consumer in this relationship. More Bond novels and comics, or for that matter films, are just a delightful bonus on top of the extensive library of James Bond stories that now exist.
Completely legit. It’s fans like you, like us at CBn, for whom these books have been published. When they fail in the eyes of fans they haven’t much more to recommend them. So everybody here who enjoyed them counts as a success - and may justify further releases.
That’s my point, given Fleming died 54 years ago, we have already had 54 years of stories beyond what we should have. If IFP went bankrupt right now, and for some reason EON did too as well as Dynamite and BBC Radio 4, we’d still have 65 years worth of stories to delve into.
Excellent question! With one exception, I believe that Horowitz’s more recent novels (in the UK) only place in paperback whereas his Bond titles only place in hardcover. Apples and oranges.
The one exception “The Word is Murder” (2017) placed #8 on the Sep 10, 2017 Sunday Times List having sold 1,420 copies that week for a cumulative total of 2,505. This was the only week where it appeared on the Sunday Times list. The book appears to have been published 24 Aug 2017. All this suggests FAAD is selling better than his recent non-Bond works in the UK, at least in hardback.
On the other hand, “The Magpie Murders” spent several weeks on the New York Times Bestseller list in trade paperback (five weeks) and hardcover (two weeks), whereas “Moriarty” and “Trigger Mortis” each spent a single week on the hardcover list at #20.
His latest, “The Word is Murder” is now on the Los Angeles Times bestseller list for the second week - the US edition was published just last month (June).
The figures do not include digital sales.
According to the Sunday Times, “Figures shown are estimated sales for the seven-day period followed (in brackets) by the estimated total sale since BookScan records began in 1998. Includes sales of more than one edition in the same format and at the same recommended retail price.”
Elsewhere, “The list is prepared for them by the Bookseller magazine, using data supplied by and copyright to Nielsen BookScan.”
The Grauniad has published several articles about book sales vs e-book sales.
It is and isn’t. The top selling hardback fiction titles can expect to sell 100,000 copies in the UK. For example, in 2017, Lee Child’s “The Midnight Line” sold at least 168,612 hardback copies, Paula Hawkins’ “Into the Water” sold 158,588 hardback copies.
I seem to recall that Jim posted some data on the old forums showing that a book on badgers outsold one of Benson’s later efforts. The sales were, to be polite, dismal. By comparison FAAD is doing jolly well…
…enough to suggest that Horowitz will be asked to write a third.
Kerryn Goldsworthy, Sydney Morning Herald. “This is the second Bond tale from Anthony Horowitz and while an admirable feat of ventriloquism it reveals just how much the original novels were defined by their own period of history, with the Cold War in full swing and the shadow of the Second World War still looming blackly over everyone. This uneasy awareness of anachronism shows up most clearly in Horowitz’s Bond’s seduction style, which is a central plank of the Bond persona: he approaches sex as though armed with a spiked drink in one hand and a cricket bat in the other. In this respect Horowitz seems torn between fidelity to the original and contemporary values. Otherwise this tale of 007’s early days is as tightly plotted and as entertaining as the originals.”
Rupert Godsal, Country Life. “…plunges the reader into a fast-moving and extremely satisfying tale. Halfway between the ‘young Bond’ of Charlie Higson’s series and the established secret agent of Fleming’s Casino Royale. Horowitz creates a memorable cast of new characters. The author manages to avoid cliches and the ideas and style are all his own. Horowitz has created another worthy addition to the James Bond canon.”
Richard Cotter, Sydney Arts Guide. “Sixtine, [is] an inspired creation with an incredible back story and more than a match for the amorous action man. Sixtine may remind readers of Modesty Blaise. She is a female of formidable confidence and charisma. Horowitz succeeds here where the writers of the last Bond film failed with the Monica Belucci character. She is a fully rounded character, an equal to Bond who slaps down any show of male chauvinism, an independent woman of decisive ability and allure. Trigger Mortis […] succeeded brilliantly, but FOREVER AND A DAY surpasses that sterling effort. There’s an ingenuity and confidence in the telling and the plot is more plausible and less preposterous with pastiche put out to pasture. There’s also a fluid fidelity to Fleming. Horowitz has the requisite imagination to deliver the sheer storytelling that great adventure demands and the craft and compassion to elevate the genre. There’s skill and wit at play here, with some delicious dialogue from the undisguised dramatist.”
Simon McDonald. “Both Trigger Mortis and Forever and a Day are closer to the top tier of Bond novels than they are the bottom, and are top-notch, read-in-one-sitting thrillers. Horowitz has concocted an excellent, truly Fleming-esque villain in Scipio, a tremendously overweight Corsican drug-dealer. Bond’s first encounter with the man is evocative of Fleming’s greatest standoff’s, and the subsequent torture sequence is played brilliantly, and is truly chilling. Forever and a Day is, if anything, superior to some of Ian Fleming’s originals. Horowitz’s affection for Bond and for all the tropes that surround him is abundantly clear, and the book works perfectly as an in-continuity pastiche.”
David Mills, Sunday Times. “Sadly it’s very formulaic. Exposition is clunkingly shovelled in. There are moments so clumsy, you groan: A French baker meets a woman ‘who calls herself Madame 16’: no, she is ‘Sixtine’; to a French baker ‘16’ would make her Madame Seize. Bond stands ‘well out of her line of vision’ yet still manages to notice ‘a flicker of excitement in Sixtine’s eyes’. Still, if you can put all that behind you, it is a fun read — the well-worked-out plot is nicely twisting, even managing a surprise at the end. Horowitz excels at action sequences and more than a third of the novel is taken up with car chases, shoot-outs, fights and explosions, so it’s by no means all bad. The next book needs to get away from the Bond checklist and formulaic structure. Fleming was much freer with his creation.”
The author of this review briefly addresses the continuation novels: “After the lacklustre run of Bond sequels by John Gardner and Raymond Benson, 10 years ago the Fleming Estate reinvigorated the franchise by commissioning Sebastian Faulks to write a new 007 adventure. Faulks had the inspired idea to set Devil May Care in 1967. This promising start was spoilt by their next commission, the American Jeffery Deaver, whose Carte Blanche takes place in 2011. Next up, William Boyd went historical again with Solo, featuring a marvellously irritable, middle-aged Bond in 1969.”
Ben Macintyre, London Times. “It’s all great fun, but of course it is not Fleming. Following Fleming is a difficult task. Depart too far from the accepted structure and the tropes and the faithful squeal in protest; but stick too closely to the Bondabilia and the result is pastiche or, worse, cliché. The problem for many of those who have tried is that they are not only better writers than he was, but nicer people. Yet it is the very rawness, exhibitionism and journalistic verve of Fleming’s writing, and the undertones of sardonic cruelty and nihilism, that make his novels so distinctive, dated and almost inimitable. Horowitz has tackled 007’s latest outing by writing a novel that feels very like a film, a Bond film. Horowitz has put together a fast-paced, skilfully written derivation on a theme so familiar most of us could hum it in our sleep. It is briefly intoxicating and unsatisfying, [and] leaves you wanting more.”
Points to Macintyre for including Christopher Wood in the list of Bond authors. Unfortunately he fails to mention John Pearson.
Michael Booker, Daily Express. " (4/5) Scipio’s early appearance as a gigantic, bloated threat to Britain’s well-being sounds like a metaphor for the overblown EU as a whole. Either that or I’ve worked for the Daily Express for too long. […] [The book features] exciting high drama, deadly double-crossing and heavy violence. Despite the odd tweak Horowitz stays loyal to the fabulous Fleming formula. And for that he surely deserves another mission guiding the fortunes of the world’s favourite superspy."
Steven Poole, The Guardian. “Horowitz has come up with an excellent villain: a corpulent Corsican drug-dealer named Scipio.” Horowitz is good at action scenes, which he helps along with emotive adjectives. Later, the jeep will, as in all car chases, have to overturn a melon cart and cheese stall. Inevitably, the prose throughout is more verbose and cliched than the brutal efficiencies of Fleming, but Forever and a Day is still an enjoyably compact thriller.
John Cox (Zencat), The Book Bond. “Forever and a Day is both great and okay. [W]hile I thoroughly enjoyed Forever and a Day, I preferred Horowitz’s Trigger Mortis. Every beat of that first book felt original to me, while every beat of this book felt familiar. Bond walks into the casino and he’s greeted like Roger Moore! The action also takes an unusually long time to kick in but this is because Horowitz takes time to develop a strong Bond Girl in Sixteen. And once the action finally does kick in, it is a relentless rush with a spectacular extended climax aboard the villain’s luxury cruise ship. Again, no spoilers, but what Bond has to endure physically – always a highlight of any Bond book – is something we’ve never seen in any Bond adventure, and it’s harrowing! This chapter alone makes Forever and a Day unforgettable and a classic among continuation novels.”
Stephen Jewell, Stuff (New Zealand). "[Horowitz] has now become the first present-day author to be invited by the Ian Fleming Estate to write a second official continuation novel.
For all the ‘me too’ era talk, I didn’t really see any serious watering down of Bond’s persona or lifestyle at all. Sixtine was just depicted as a strong and mysterious character. She asks Bond to make love to her again, this time less like an excited schoolboy. Gee, poor Bond. I could live with that.
Maybe one way to nod towards #metoo would be having a Bond who is warmer, less brutal, not at all ruthlessly self serving when it comes to women. By pitching it as a prequel Horowitz has to do just that and it’s a tall order that ultimately presents a rather vanilla bond.
It’s a fine line for horowitz to have a young bond whom exhibits such naivety that he can be taught the lessons that form peak-Bond without stepping on the toes of CR which already illustrates this arc very clearly. Bond’s perceived misogyny - his failing; that which makes him complex and therefore human - his distrust of anyone, including (or perhaps particularly) beautiful women is motivated by Vesper’s betrayel in Casino Royale. So having a femme fatale that betrays him in FAAD is out of the question as it would undermine Vesper’s role in bonds development, making her moot [note: haven’t quite finished reading it yet - hope I’m not proven wrong!]. From from the beginning to [im guessing] the end of FAAD Bond can’t exhibit an ounce of misogyny because it’s cause hasn’t occurred yet.
So pandering to #metoo by tackling the roots of his apparent misogyny head on wasn’t an option because Flemings already nailed it in his usual unsympathetic way, ‘The bitch is dead’.
Fleming makes this betrayel trope function in the traditional manner, beginning CR with a more trusting, open and naive bond; Mathis attempts to enlighten bond, but it’s not until the books very last line that he’s really learnt that lesson and become the mentally tough/dammaged individual that everyone recognises and feminists castigate.
Imo interpreting Sixtine’s strong, capable allie as a post #metoo character is reading too much into it. In a prequel to CR she simply had to be different, even opposite to Vesper.
FAAD’s big problem is in painting bond as both cool enough to be ‘bond’, yet even more inexperienced than he is in CR. Horowitz has to leave room to have a precursor to CRs learning arc with an even more standard ‘Hero’ archetype in terms of his simplistic, basic value system and lack of emotional maturity; more bulldog Drummond than bond.
FAAD’s Bond is dumb and naive at times, yet cool and resourceful at others. One minute he’s the cold assassin in the opening set piece with a pragmatic internal monologue that’s as close to proto-Patrick Bateman as it is to proto-bond. But then Horowitz needs him to be really really ‘Dumb bond’, trusting that a man is indeed CIA just because he says he is and so returning his gun after disarming him. That’s not the same bond that just cooly knifed a man in bed, or deduced a stash’s hiding place on the roof. But such naive moves as returning a gun to a stranger is essential to illustrate a pre-CR, even more novice agent. Or is it just lazy writing? Who knows?
So this very narrow window in bonds development inevitably means it’s a little uneven in bonds portrayel. But as I scream at the kindle, annoyed at such hopelessly naive moves by Bond I have to ultimately give Horowitz credit for choosing such a difficult task and yet making something highly readable and very enjoyable out of it.
Like Trigger Morris it sometimes gets caught up in the minutiae of luxury in awe of Flemings style (back then this stuff was fascinating, but now it’s all too familiar). It’s not the bond we know, but certainly one that may have existed before Vesper vanquished this chivalrous English gentlemanly cliche found in FAAD. And this highly simplistic, gentlemanly portrayal of bond is not a nod to #metoo, but a symptom of setting it before CR, in which Fleming had already portrayed the chivalrous idealist’s painful journey to the cold, hard truths of his profession and thereafter exhibiting behaviour that feminists take out of context in order to label it misogyny.
Hmm, I didn’t mean to go on so long -haven’t even finished the book yet - kindle says 90%! If anyone replies - no spoilers please
And oh boy, I really loved the trippy heroine interlude! It was basically a title credit sequence, but as a prelude to the finale instead of at the start of the film and narrated by a bond high on himself. That was a genius stroke by Horowitz - well done to him. Love to see that in a movie (in an adaptation of YOLT directed by Danny Boyle would good ).