Literary prize winners fly as Ishiguro over-indexes through independents

Literary prize winners fly as Ishiguro over-indexes through independents

Maggie O’Farrell’s Hamnet topped the Nielsen BookScan independent bookseller chart for the week ending 17th April, as indie bookshops in England opened their doors for the first time since the very start of 2021. The top three bestselling titles through indies—Hamnet, Douglas Stuart’s Booker Prize-winning Shuggie Bain and Matt Haig’s The Midnight Library—were identical to the main TCM chart, as book buyers rushed to support their local bookshop. The 2020 Nielsen Books & Consumer survey found that the most common reason respondents gave for visiting an independent bookshop last year was to show support, rising from the seventh-most common reason in 2019, and this seems to have carried on into post-lockdown 2021. 

Kazuo Ishiguro’s Klara and the Sun, 29th place in the overall Top 50 and second to Richard Osman’s The Thursday Murder Club in the Original Fiction chart, claimed fourth place in the indie booksellers ranking. The hardback was by far the most expensive book in the top 20, with an average selling price of £19.87—a cool £5.30 more expensive than its TCM-wide price. 

Fiction dominated the indie ranking, with Rachel Joyce’s Miss Benson’s Beetle, Anne Tyler’s Redhead by the Side of the Road and Delia Owens’ Where the Crawdads Sing all charting in the top 10. Emma Stonex’s début The Lamplighters—which jumped 10 places up the market-wide Original Fiction chart last week—also zipped up into eighth place among indies. Aside from Women’s Prize-winner Hamnet and Shuggie Bain at the top, award-winners were rife: Costa Book of the Year 2020 Monique Roffey’s The Mermaid of Black Conch charted in 13th place and Bernardine Evaristo’s Booker Prize-winning Girl, Woman, Other hit 17th. 

US Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman’s The Hill We Climb, a published version of the poem she read at Joe Biden’s presidential inauguration ceremony in Washington DC in January, charted highest among non-fiction titles, after débuting in the Hardback Non-fiction chart earlier this month. (Poetry is coded as non-fiction through BookScan.) Michael Rosen’s Covid-19 recovery story Many Different Kinds of Love, Charlie Mackesy’s enduring bestseller The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse and Reverend Richard Coles’ The Madness of Grief also hit the chart.