Hardback sales slump hints at late Christmas shop

Printed book sales in the UK rose for the fourth consecutive week last week but remain significantly behind last year.

According to Nielsen BookScan data, £28.6m was spent on physical books at UK booksellers last week, up 1.3% (£0.4m) week-on-week, but down 11.2% (£3.6m) year-on-year with a lacklustre hardback books market largely to blame.

An analysis of BookScan’s top 5,000 bestseller list for the seven days to 17th September reveals that spending on hardback books was down 30% year-on-year last week. This comes despite that fact that more than 300 hardback titles hit the shelves on 15th September, one of the major dates in the 2011 publishing calendar and more than four times the daily average.

Philippa Gregory’s The Lady of the Rivers (Simon and Schuster) was the bestselling hardback book of the week, scoring the novelist her third consecutive Original Fiction chart number one. However, its sale of 9,683 copies last week was beaten by nine hardback books in the comparative week last year, led by Stephen Fry’s The Fry Chronicles (Michael Joseph) and Tony Blair’s A Journey (Hutchinson) with sales of 37,325 and 25,869 copies respectively.

Overall, David Nicholls’ One Day (Hodder) was once again the bestselling book in the UK, with the film tie-in edition of his novel taking top spot in this week’s Official UK Top 50 ahead of the older mass-market edition. Jeffrey Archer’s Only Time Will Tell (Pan) débuts in third position in this week’s chart, helped by a spot in W H Smith’s half-price “book of the week” promotion.

Other new entries include Jeffrey Deaver’s The Edge (Hodder), Tom Clancy and Grant Blackwood’s Dead or Alive (Penguin) and the latest edition of fact compendium Guinness World Records 2012 (Guinness). The latter is the new number one in this week’s Hardback Non-fiction chart, achieving a feat last year’s edition never managed.