The most discounted

<p>We all love a good bargain, especially in &quot;tough economic times&quot; (or whatever the credit-crunching buzz-phrase is these days). And with the brand new Dan Brown, <i>The Lost Symbol</i> (r.r.p. &pound;18.99) currently available for &pound;3 less (&pound;4.99) than its mass-market edition will (probably) eventually cost (&pound;7.99), one struggles to comprehend how any of the major retailers involved in this incredibly brutal price war are making any money.<br />
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Back in 2001, when book sales experts Nielsen BookScan began their comprehensive sales monitoring service, the UK book trade was discounting each book by 16.3%, on average. Which meant by the end of the year, a substantial &pound;246.6m had been given away by retailers.<br />
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Every year since then, that figure has increased, and last year saw 22.9% slashed off the price of each book sold, on average&mdash;resulting in an eye-popping &pound;527.8m given away in discounting. It is an incredible statistic.<br />
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Thus far in 2009, perhaps understandably given the &quot;climate&quot; (etc), that discount figure is 22.5%, slightly deeper than the 21.1% figure of the same period last year. And next week, the trade is set to see the biggest-ever discounted number one.<br />
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Since BookScan records began, just five titles that have sold more than 100,000 copies have been discounted, to date, by more than 50% on average. Only one of those reached number one&mdash;J<i>amie's Italy</i>, which sits at the top of the pile with life sales of 830,394 and an average selling price of 55.02% off its r.r.p.. It spent an impressive eight weeks at the top of BookScan's weekly Top 5,000 bestseller list but in each of those was never discounted by more than 48.5%.<br />
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Thus far, the biggest discounted number one ever seen was back in 2005 when Sharon Osbourne's <i>Extreme: My Autobiography</i> enjoyed some (very early) post-Christmas sales. The &pound;18.99 publication sold 29,589 copies during the week ending 31st December at just &pound;7.19 on average&mdash;a 62.1% discount.<br />
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We'll find out what <i>The Lost Symbol's</i> average selling price is/was in its first days, when this week's results (ending 19th September) are announced on Tuesday. But if unconfirmed rumours are to be believed then at least 150,000 copies have been sold at just &pound;4.99 (73.7% off r.r.p.).<br />
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Which will make it not only the fastest-selling adult novel since records began, but potentially the most discounted chart-topper we've ever seen. But at &pound;4.99, it's probably also taking the accolade of &quot;least profitable&quot; too.</p>