Super Thursday is upon us — the day in the annual publishing calendar when the biggest* books hit bookshop shelves. With a name inspired by US presidential elections, “Super Thursday” was the creation of The Bookseller magazine and is a “serendipitous by-product” of the publishing industry’s habit of releasing books on a Thursday, and the September/October period being a pre-Christmas sweet-spot.

*Note that Super Thursday isn’t necessarily the “biggest” day in the publishing calendar in terms of the total number of books published — the first day and final day of the month tend to be default hot spots for a lot of books that do not have critical day-specific publication dates — but rather, it’s the day that The Bookseller, and more specifically its features and insights editor Tom Tivnan, believes the largest number of hardbacks with bestseller list potential hit the shelves.

Of course, Super Thursday is always called well in advance of the actual day itself, so there is an element of crystal ball-gazing. However, if Nielsen BookScan’s end-of-year top 5,000 chart is the ultimate authority on annual “bestsellers”, then I can confirm that The Bookseller’s crystal ball is one of the shiniest and most accurate in the world. There have been 13 Super Thursdays since the very first in 2008, and on nine occasions the date called by The Bookseller was indeed the one most heavily represented in the end-of-year charts. And on three other occasions it was just a single date out. This is a huge relief to me personally as, all cards on the table, I was one of the architects of Super Thursday back in 2008 and analysed the publishing schedules to help pick the date for the first six years.

In recent years, books released on Super Thursday have taken more than £30m at UK bookshop tills in the year they were published, with Super Thursday-published hardbacks taking around 70 spots on the year-end bestseller charts.

So what of this year? Well, according to Nielsen records, 356 hardbacks hit the shelves this Super Thursday. This is down about half on last year’s souped-up Super Thursday, which benefitted from a date falling on the 1st of the month (see above point about default pub dates) and the pandemic shifting many books that were due to be published in Q2 into later in the year.

Titles released on Super Thursday this year that will soon be battling for a place on the Nielsen-produced Sunday Times bestseller lists include:

  • Shopaholic creator Sophie Kinsella’s new novel, ‘The Party Crasher’
  • Heather Morris’s conclusion to the Tattooist of Auschwitz story, ‘Three Sisters’
  • Comedian Rob Beckett’s memoir, ‘A Class Act’
  • Liverpool FC legend John Barnes’ ‘The Uncomfortable Truth About Racism’
  • Gordon Ramsay’s ‘Ramsay in 10’, inspired by his YouTube series
  • Gold medal Olympian Tom Daley’s ‘Coming Up for Air’
  • Comedian Michael McIntyre’s second autobiography, ‘A Funny Life’
  • Liz Pichon’s 19th Tom Gates novel, ‘Random Acts of Fun’
  • The Hairy Bikers’ collection of everyday family favourite recipes, ‘Everyday Winners’
  • John le Carré’s new thriller, ‘Silverview’
  • Drag Race UK participant Bimini Bon Boulash’s ‘Release the Beast’
  • Julia Donaldson and Victoria Sandøy’s ‘The Christmas Pine’, adapted from a poem Donaldson wrote last year for The Poetry Society
  • McFly musician and current* Strictly Come Dancing contestant Tom Fletcher’s ‘The Christmasaurus and the Naughty List’

*at the time of going to press!

Whether any of the 356 hardbacks released on Super Thursday go on to scoop the Christmas number one spot remains to be seen. A book published on Super Thursday has yet to top the chart on Christmas Day but given around 100,000 physical books hit the shelves every year, that’s an awful lot of competition.

Data extracted from BookData Online and BookScan. For more information, please contact infobookresearch@nielseniq.com.