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Assange misses chart as September slump continues
27.09.11 | Philip Stone
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's controversial memoir failed to make the charts after three days on sale, as printed books continue their September struggle.
According to Nielsen BookScan data, sales were down 9% year-on-year. In total, £29.5m was spent on physical books at UK booksellers last week, up 3.2% (£900,000) on the previous week, but down £2.9m on on the same week last year.
Nielsen BookScan's Top 5,000 bestseller list for the seven days to 24th September period reveals that spending on hardback books was down 30% on last year, with paperback sales down 6%. Just one hardback book, Guinness World Records 2012, sold more than 10,000 copies at UK booksellers last week, in comparison to seven in the same week last year.
David Nicholls' One Day (Hodder) was once again the bestselling book at UK bookshops, but as the majority of its sales are split between its two high-selling mass-market editions—the film tie-in version sold 17,458 copies while the original mass-market edition sold 16,243—it is Jeffrey Archer who tops this week's Official UK Top 50.
His Only Time Will Tell (Pan), the first book in a five-part Bristol-based saga, sold 25,118 copies in its first full week in UK bookshops. Tom Clancy and Grant Blackwood's Dead or Alive (Penguin) takes second place in this week's Official UK Top 50, ahead of the two editions of One Day. Guinness World Records 2012 climbs 12 places week-on-week and takes fifth place with sales of 15,455 copies.
However, perhaps the most talked-about book of the week, Julian Assange: The Unauthorised Autobiography (Canongate), fails to make the chart. The controversial memoir, released on Thursday (22nd September), scored modest sales of 644 copies in its three days on sale last week. It was only the 50th bestselling hardback non-fiction book of the week, and only the 537th bestselling book overall, sitting directly behind Julia Donaldson's Freddie and the Fairy (Macmillan) and Sharon Kendrick's Satisfaction (Mills & Boon), a £6.99 collection of three short stories featuring "three of her sexiest, most intense Greek heroes and glamorous heroines".
Canongate publishing director Nick Davies said the book's performance was "a marathon and not a sprint" and said Canongate had signed seven international rights deals since the book was published. He said: "We never made any big predictions about the sales of the Assange book – particularly on the first three days of sale. There was no build up for the trade, the media or with the reading public. But we’re proud of the way we handled what has been a difficult and unusual launch, and we are extremely proud of the book.
"Fortunately, the conversation now seems to be moving away from the “publishing story” and focusing on the quality of the book itself. The early reviews – with the exception of a predictable whitewash in the Guardian – have been very positive, particularly in the Times and Independent with many more lead reviews lined up for this weekend. And the early customer reviews on Amazon are extremely positive too."
New entries into the Official UK Top 50 include Peter Kay's The Book That's More Than Just a Book Book (Hodder), Pam Ayres' memoir The Necessary Aptitude (Ebury), and, thanks to its eight-hour dramatisation on BBC Radio Four, Vasily Grossman's Life and Fate (Vintage). Karl Pilkington's An Idiot Abroad (Canongate) re-enters the Top 50 ahead of a second series of "An Idiot Abroad" beginning on Sky1.
James Patterson's Kill Alex Cross (Century) is the new number one in Original Fiction this week, which scores the US novelist his seventh Original Fiction number one of 2011. Philippa Gregory's The Lady of the Rivers (Simon & Schuster) falls one place to second position but, with her The Women of the Cousins' War (Simon & Schuster) also charting in this week's Top 20 Hardback Non-fiction list, she scores the incredibly rare feat of earning bestseller status across both The Bookseller's Original Fiction and Hardback Non-fiction charts. The last person to achieve the feat was Andy McNab with Exit Wound and Spoken From the Front in 2009.
Guinness World Records 2012 was the bestselling hardback non-fiction book last week and tops a Top 20 Hardback Non-fiction chart that welcomes three new entries. Happy Mondays frontman Shaun Ryder's memoir Twisting My Melon (Bantam Press), débuts in 10th position, while Adam Macqueen's Private Eye: The First 50 Years (Private Eye) and Billy Connolly's Route 66 (Sphere) join the Top 20 in 15th and 16th place respectively.
Julia Donaldson's The Highway Rat (Alison Green) remains the bestselling children's title in the UK, thanks to sales of 5,221 copies. Sales of annuals are beginning to climb ahead of Christmas but the Beano Annual (D C Thomson) and the Doctor Who Annual (BBC), traditionally the bestselling annuals in the UK, have stiff competition this year. Moshi Monsters: The Official Annual (Sunbird) was the bestseller at UK bookshops last week, with sales of 2,691 copies, almost 300 more than Beano and some 913 copies more than Doctor Who.