January 25, 2019
Order, order! Publishers set to clean up in the wake of tidying craze
by Tom Clayton
Ah, January. The holidays are over, and the only thing that remains are those weird chocolate liqueurs no-one wants to eat, and a nagging sense of regret: should I really have eaten that eleventh mince pie? Should we have sat Aunty Maureen quite so close to the sherry bottle? Will she ever stop singing ‘Let It Snow’ at full volume and come down from the roof?
A new year traditionally represents a time to renew and refresh. And at the helm of 2019’s Spring cleaning is ‘tidying consultant’ Marie Kondo, and her hit Netflix series The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying—based on the global bestselling book, which we covered back in 2014. Her KonMari method, which involves tidying the whole house in one go, by ‘category’ (clothes, books, empty bottles of sherry, etc.), has taken some heavy trolling on Twitter from performative bibliophiles who are peculiarly focused on Kondo’s ‘does this spark joy?’ catchphrase… even though Kondo hasn’t, as far as we know, personally instructed them to get rid of anything. Such criticism hasn’t stopped her racing back up the book charts, as people seek to start their year with a lovely bit of t-shirt folding. And why not?
Kondo is not the only one exhorting us to do away with the clutter. Superstar Instagram cleaner Mrs. Hinch—the ‘modern-day Mrs. Mop‘ according to The Telegraph—a.k.a Essex-based hairdresser Sophie Hinchcliffe, is now set to rival Kondo’s success. Back in September last year, Amber Hicks profiled Hinchcliffe’s astonishing 12-month rise in The Mirror, which currently sees her Instagram follower count at 1.6 million. The article also contained a list of her favourite cleaning products, ‘many [of which] are selling out, or going on sale online at massively inflated prices due to the high demand.’
Hinch Yourself Happy, Hinchcliffe’s first book, is inspired by dispatches from the immaculate home she shares with her husband and dog (neither of whom, presumably, are allowed on the bed). In December The Bookseller reported that Hinch Yourself Happy had been acquired by Michael Joseph in an 11-way auction—and, as The Sun subsequently reported, Hinchcliffe is set to make millions from her ‘cleaning sprees’ in 2019. Indeed, the book has barely been out of the Amazon pre-orders Top Ten since its announcement late last year; the book itself isn’t released until April.
If we’re going to get all political about it, you could argue it’s no coincidence that this craze for well-ordered houses comes at a time when everything else in the world is so uncertain. Heck, just last week the UK parliament picked up Theresa May‘s Brexit agreement, weighed it in their hands, and (metaphorically) asked if it sparked joy. Needless to say, like everything Brexit-related, it didn’t. It may be that increasing global uncertainty and political disenfranchisement means people’s focus is turning inwards; onto the things they can control. For a lot of folks, that means their living space.
Of course, there’s no harm in having a tidy-up, and Hinchcliffe herself has said that she finds cleaning a good way to alleviate her anxiety. But if you’re tempted to go on a spree, it’s also important to keep in mind that neatness isn’t for everyone. Your space is just that—yours—and you’re free to fill it or empty it however you choose. Nevertheless, in the world of books at least, it looks like 2019 could be the year of the dishcloth.
Tom Clayton is publishing executive at Melville House UK.