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WBN titles receive major sales boost
21.03.11 | Philip Stone
Sales of the 25 titles given away as freebies on World Book Night continue to confound the critics, as the public snap up the selections at three times the rate in March this year as they did last year, on average.
In total, the 25 World Book Night titles have sold 58,100 copies thus far in March, with the average year-on-year sales increase for each title measuring 205%. Approximately £78,000 more has been spent on the books over the past two weeks than in the comparative weeks last year.
It is now estimated that the World Book Night event has provided the 25 titles with approximately 75,000 extra sales in 2011, or £450,000 in value terms, but these figures do not include any sales boosts received for backlist titles by the chosen authors.
Similarly, the figures do not include any add-on sales enjoyed by other non-World Book Night books that shoppers might have been persuaded to buy simultaneously in order to take advantage of booksellers' money-off promotions.
Helped by recent celebrity plugs on BBC2's "My Life in Books" series, David Nicholls' One Day (Hodder) and Rohinton Mistry's A Fine Balance (Faber) are the current favourites with the book-buying public, while Seamus Heaney's New Selected Poems (Faber) is currently enjoying the biggest proportional benefit of being one of the chosen 25. Its sales for the first two weeks of March this year are up 730% on March 2010 when it sold just 106 copies.
Since the beginning of the year, sales of each of the 25 books have increased by 172% on average—a significantly stronger performance than the wider market which has experienced a sales slump of 9% in volume terms.
The only book to have seen its sales fall since the first week of 2011 is TV chef Nigel Slater's memoir, Toast (Fourth Estate), as the book experienced a huge sales boost in December/January thanks to its BBC TV adaptation. In fact, its sales have jumped 65% over the past fortnight, and last week were up 196% year on year.