Adam Ash

Your daily entertainment scout. Whatever is happening out there, you'll find the best writing about it in here.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Bookplanet: Megaselling writer on houseplants

I don't know why, but I just loved reading this.
'Most authors who had written a book selling millions of copies would not drag their feet in writing a sequel. But not Dr DG Hessayon, who may be the most successful author you've never heard of. In 1960 Dr Hessayon first published The House Plant Expert, a guide to, well, house plants and their discontents. Since then his book has sold 14m copies, been translated into 22 languages, and become the most popular book on gardening ever written. What is almost more extraordinary is that it has taken Dr Hessayon 45 years to compile a follow-up. Next month finally sees the long-awaited The House Plant Expert Book Two go on sale, joining Dr Hessayon's clutch of other titles, including The Rose Expert, The Lawn Expert and The Flowering Shrub Expert, which are said to have sold a total of 48m copies worldwide. Eat your heart out Dan Brown--with sales of a mere 29m copies of The Da Vinci Code. The secret of Dr Hessayon's success is simple--very, very simple. Since almost every household has plants of some sort, and so many things can go wrong with them, the demand for a basic, common-sense guide is huge. The books include, for example, a description of how to water a plant. Written in a stern, no-nonsense style, Dr Hessayon's books are almost unrecognisable when compared with many modern gardening books, which, with their glossy display photographs, look more like works of art than how-to guides. The design of Dr Hessayon's books could be best characterised as "1980 East German tourist brochure", but without the exuberance. Yet his series has made the 77-year-old Dr Hessayon perhaps the most successful living author in the English language, and a multi-millionaire to boot. The books themselves are reliable, utilitarian and without graces, much like the publicity-shy Dr Hessayon--who says he prefers to be known as Dave.'


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