The hard-backed annual is a stocking filler that never goes out of fashion.
Is this a British thing? Not sure — if it is, and if you're reading this overseas, the idea of an annual is that it's a look back over the year just gone and a look ahead to the year just around the corner, usually given as a Christmas present. Bands and popstars would have their own annuals. 'The Kylie Annual', for example. The 'look back over the year' part is always a little bit cobbled together as the book will invariably have gone to press during the summer, hence a display of 2010 annuals like the one above being in bookseller/stationery merchant WH Smith right now. There are some classics of the genre like Pet Shop Boys' 'Annually' but most annuals are just an excuse to chuck together a load of press shots, shoddy horoscopes, made up interviews and a wordsearch then charge seven quid for the lot. A bit of a ripoff really, so perfect for the pop industry.
It's interesting that even at a point when 'print is dead' there's still a market for annuals, those special interest snapshots to be obsessed over by bored kids on long Boxing Day car journeys to see the grandparents, with crosswords and quizzes to be completed in a quiet corner when mum and dad 'just need a bit of quiet time'. The WH Smith display pictured above seems like quite a broad selection — let's see which pop annuals are available this year.
So that's High School Musical, Hannah Montana, Miley Cyrus and Camp Rock.
WELL DONE THE BRITISH MUSIC INDUSTRY.