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Child on top as Super Thursday boosts sales

Six hardback books released on “Super Thursday” (29th September) sold more than 10,000 copies in their three days on sale last week, helping book sales soar past the £30m mark for the first time since December last year.

In total, £32.1m was spent at UK booksellers in the seven days to 1st October, up 8.6% (£2.5m) on the previous week. According to Nielsen BookScan TCM Top 5,000 data, spending on hardback books soared by 35% week-on-week, with sales of hardback novels up a bumper 55% week-on-week and spending on hardback non-fiction up 35%.

Lee Child’s The Affair (Bantam Press), one of more than 200 hardback books officially released on Super Thursday, tops this week’s Official UK Top 50 with a 30,637 sale, which is one of the strongest opening-week sales of 2011. The novel, Child’s 16th Jack Reacher thriller, is the first hardback to top the Official UK Top 50 since Kate McCann’s Madeleine (Bantam) in May.

Peter James’ seventh Roy Grace thriller, Dead Man’s Grip (Pan), takes second position with help from a spot in W H Smith’s half-price “book of the week” promotion, while Bernard Cornwell’s sixth Saxon Chronicle, Death of Kings (HarperCollins), débuts in third.

In the highly competitive celebrity memoir stakes, stand-up comic Lee Evans draws first blood, his memoir The Life of Lee (Michael Joseph) selling 16,008 copies in its first week in shops. Thanks to a £5 deal at Tesco which plunged its average selling price to just £6.79, James Corden’s May I Have Your Attention Please? (Century, £20), was the second bestselling celeb-mem of the week.

Jamie Oliver’s latest cookbook, Jamie’s Great Britain (Michael Joseph), the hot favourite to be this year’s Christmas Number One, got off to a solid start with sales of 15,283 copies, although sales are sure to increase once the six-part tie-in TV series of the same name begins on Channel Four on 20th October.

In the children’s sector, Jacqueline's second Hetty Feather novel, Sapphire Battersea (Doubleday), storms to the top of the charts with an impressive 14,828 opening-week sale—more than double the figure last year’s The Longest Whale Song scored in its first week in stores. Sales of her first novel of 2011 Lily Alone currently stand at 142,000 copies and counting—up 60% on last year’s Little Darlings.

However, despite the big boost in sales week-on-week, overall spending remains down on 2010. According to BookScan data, spending at UK booksellers last week was down 11%, or £4m, on an even bigger Super Thursday week last year, when sales sneaked just over the £36m mark.

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Super Thursday benefitted Tesco, then. Congrats to Phil Clarke.

While sales may well have soared week on week as you'd expect, the year on years of physical sales are not so great.

Sales of the top 5000 books are -15% yoy, with both fiction and trade non fiction -19% in value, which will only be partially offset by digital.

Jamie sales have nearly halved from 30k units in this week last year to barely 15k this and while the RRP has increased to £30, the ASP is only £11.68 (v. £10.84 LY). It's not as good a proposition as 30-minute meals, but this will be well below Penguin and retail expectations.

Sales values of the top 50 are down by more than 30% year on year, and the top 200 are £2m lower than they were last year, showing similar levels of decline over recent weeks.

The challenge now is for publishers and retailers to innovate and work together to give customers reasons to come to bookshops - chain, indie, supermarket and deliver as strong an Autumn as possible. The books are similar in quality year on year - but price and customer sentiment are the issues everyone in the industry needs to address. Whether we like it or not, books are a discretionary spend for the 'squeezed middle'...

Super Thursday benefitted Tesco, then. Congrats to Phil Clarke.

While sales may well have soared week on week as you'd expect, the year on years of physical sales are not so great.

Sales of the top 5000 books are -15% yoy, with both fiction and trade non fiction -19% in value, which will only be partially offset by digital.

Jamie sales have nearly halved from 30k units in this week last year to barely 15k this and while the RRP has increased to £30, the ASP is only £11.68 (v. £10.84 LY). It's not as good a proposition as 30-minute meals, but this will be well below Penguin and retail expectations.

Sales values of the top 50 are down by more than 30% year on year, and the top 200 are £2m lower than they were last year, showing similar levels of decline over recent weeks.

The challenge now is for publishers and retailers to innovate and work together to give customers reasons to come to bookshops - chain, indie, supermarket and deliver as strong an Autumn as possible. The books are similar in quality year on year - but price and customer sentiment are the issues everyone in the industry needs to address. Whether we like it or not, books are a discretionary spend for the 'squeezed middle'...