Pratchett's Snuff snaffles top spot with ease

Terry Pratchett’s Snuff (Doubleday) has become one of the fastest-selling novels since records began, shifting 54,687 copies at UK book retail outlets in its three days on sale last week.

Helped by extensive pre-orders and a £5 deal at Tesco, Pratchett's 39th Discworld novel has the biggest opening week sale from a hardback adult-audience novel since Transworld stablemate Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol (Bantam Press) in 2009. Along with Brown, only one other novel has sold more copies in its first week on shelves since records began: Thomas Harris’ Hannibal (Heinemann) sold 58,300 copies in four days after its release in June 1999.

Transworld managing director Larry Finlay said: "[Pratchett] is now firmly established as one of the nation’s most important and widely read authors, with so much to say about the world in which we live. I couldn’t be more delighted that with Snuff, Terry now joins a very select band of record-breakers."

James Patterson and Howard Roughan's Don't Blink (Arrow) was the second bestselling book of the week, scoring sales of 25,139 copies helped by a half-price "book of the week" spot in W H Smith. The latest edition of Guinness World Records enjoyed a small sales boost week-on-week, and climbs one position into third place in the Official UK Top 50.

Snuff was one of more than 200 hardbacks to hit the shelves on Thursday last week (13th October), in what was another huge day in the 2011 publishing calendar. Books released on Thursday that earn bestseller status this week include Ian Rankin’s The Impossible Dead (Orion); Cecelia Ahern’s The Time of My Life (HarperCollins); Danielle Steel’s Hotel Vendome (Bantam Press); the Hairy Bikers’ Perfect Pies (Weidenfeld); and the latest edition of Ripley’s Believe it or Not (Random House). A few others, including Jeremy Clarkson’s Round the Bend; Rob Brydon’s Small Man in a Book (both Michael Joseph); Michael Bublé’s Onstage, Offstage (Bantam Press); and Kirstie Allsopp’s Craft (Hodder), narrowly miss out on places in The Bookseller's bestseller lists.

However, the 13th October proved unlucky for some, with a few new titles getting off to comparatively slow starts in a competitive market. New books by “Top Gear” star James May, TV presenter Tess Daly, Olympian Sir Steve Redgrave and broadcaster Terry Wogan all failed to sell more than 500 copies in their first week on shelves last week.

As book fans look to the announcement of the Man Booker prize tonight (18th October), A D Miller's Snowdrops (Atlantic) has entered the Top 20 Mass-market Fiction chart for the first time. It sold 6,685 copies last week, which is more than double the next most popular shortlistee, Carol Birch's Jamrach's Menagerie. The Canongate title sold 2,864 physical copies last week.

Overall, hardback book sales through Nielsen BookScan’s Top 5,000 bestseller list for the seven days to 15th October were up 15% week-on-week. However, due to a big decline in sales of paperback novels (down 10% week-on-week), overall book sales fell 1.9% week-on-week, to £33.8m overall.

Sales of printed books also continue to struggle in comparison to last year, with last week’s sales down 8.4% on the comparative week in 2010. Although sales of children’s books are relatively flat year-on-year, spending on non-fiction is down 10% and spending on fiction is down almost 20%, according to top 5,000 data.