15th November 2013 - Lizzie Marchant
As if 38 trophies in 27 years at Manchester United wasn't enough, Sir Alex Ferguson's autobiography has been smashing sales records too. Every year, the run-up to Christmas sees countless celebrities publishing autobiographies, so Lizzie Marchant, from our Westfield Stratford City branch, looks at why Fergie has managed to see off the competition yet again.
In the last few weeks the record for the fastest selling non-fiction title has been smashed by none other than Sir Alex Ferguson. His latest volume of autobiography made £2.8 million in sales in its first week alone, and the recent Southbank Centre event with him sold out in minutes. But why has it been so popular?
His is not the first celebrity autobiography to have topped the bestseller lists; Keith Richards, Miranda Hart and Arnold Schwarzenegger, for instance, have all recently published their life stories with amazing success. The lives of famous people have always provoked public fascination. Everyone wants to know what it's really like being famous; we want to be included, to feel like we could have that life. And being given a glimpse into a favourite star's life often seems to confirm that, in the real world, you'd probably be friends... or enemies.
But quite often these autobiographies don't deliver much; the declaration that someone isn't very keen on her ex-husband or that a musician's abilities weren't particularly encouraged at school and consequently a certain teacher probably feels rather foolish now are less than riveting revelations. But Fergie continues to fly off the shelves because he realy does dish the dirt. He's never been one to shy away from confrontation, and his autobiography is as salacious as you'd hope. From advising Tony Blair on Cabinet appointments to what he really thinks of David Beckham and Wayne Rooney, it's all there in black and white. The orneriness he's famous for is out in full force and he's settling all the old scores.
It's not just that he's famous though, or that he's a bit of a gossip. His success at Old Trafford is already sorely missed. He didn't just create one winning team but crafted them again and again, and (at the start of the season at least) David Moyes is struggling to fill the shoes. Ferguson's autobiography is a reminder of how great he really was.
In publishing terms, it wasn't long between the announcement that he was intending to write and the date that the finished product was released, but a long publicity campaign wasn't needed. His 27-year career at Manchester United had been enough.
Alex Ferguson isn't like other celebrities. He doesn't feign an other-worldly level of patience and forgiveness. He's outspoken and frank and more often than not voices public opinion. But what makes his book sales more noteworthy is the imminent publication of David Beckham's life story.
At less than half the length of Fergie's, it should highlight the difference between players and managers. Players either have a gift or a determination to practice enough to become great, while managers need brains, a game plan, and in this case not a care in the world for what anyone might think of them.