Loan Reacher earns sixth year as most borrowed title

Loan Reacher earns sixth year as most borrowed title

The Girl on the Train pulled into the top spot of the Official UK Top 50 12 times in 2016; chugged its way to a million copies sold; bought a ticket to head the annual audio download list; and topped the Weekly E-Book Ranking more times than any other title. But the psychological thriller just missed out on becoming the most-borrowed title of 2016, despite its hardback being LibScan’s most popular single edition. Total borrowing numbers across formats gives Lee Child’s Make Me the edge—by 152 loans.

Child’s 20th Jack Reacher title trailed the sales of two editions (paperback and film tie-in) of The Girl on the Train through BookScan. But it racked up 36,2015 loans in 2016, meaning that Child has authored UK libraries’ most-borrowed title for a sixth consecutive year. Last year’s victor, Personal, charts third, while the latest Reacher, 1990s-set prequel Night School, even managed to notch a not-inconsiderable 3,658 loans in less than two months of availability through libraries.

The LibScan 2016 list [below] is mostly immune to BookScan’s bestselling author—and library campaigner—J K Rowling. (You don’t earn £250m if people read your books for free.) Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was loaned 5,877 times, good enough for 417th place, perhaps unsurprising given that 1.4 million book-buyers opted to part with their cash to buy a copy instead. Rowling’s alter ego Robert Galbraith, with the third Cormoran Strike novel, Career of Evil, hits seventh place.

Male order

Counting Galbraith, five women feature in the top 20, compared to 11 men (four of whom chart twice). The split may be more a case of genre preference than misogyny among librarygoers. Crime fiction—especially Child’s ultra-masculine brand—reigns supreme, with James Patterson, David Baldacci, Harlan Coben and Michael Connelly all joining Child in the top 20. Police procedural penmen Mark Billingham and Ian Rankin, legal eagle John Grisham and commuter-thriller staple Hawkins round out the criminal line-up. Just four general fiction titles chart, authored by three women writers (Jojo Moyes, Kate Atkinson, Harper Lee) and one man (Jeffrey Archer).

However, there was no gender split among the most-borrowed kids’ titles: it was a boys’ club, with Jeff Kinney and David Walliams occupying three positions between them. Kinney’s two most recent Wimpy Kid titles, The Long Haul and Hard Luck, both chart in the top 10, while Walliams’ Awful Auntie, released in paperback in January, was borrowed 18,837 times in 2016.


1 Make Me Lee Child Bantam 36,205
2 The Girl on the Train Paula Hawkins Doubleday 36,053
3 Personal Lee Child Bantam 25,359
4 Rogue Lawyer John Grisham Hodder & Stoughton 23,641
5 Even Dogs in the Wild Ian Rankin Orion 23,529
6 The Long Haul Jeff Kinney Puffin 23,184
7 Career of Evil Robert Galbraith Sphere 20,784
8 After You Jojo Moyes Michael Joseph 20,624
9 Hard Luck Jeff Kinney Puffin 20,234
10 A God in Ruins Kate Atkinson Doubleday 20,112
11 Cometh the Hour Jeffrey Archer Macmillan 19,664
12 Alert James Patterson Century 19,190
13 The Guilty David Baldacci Macmillan 18,932
14 Awful Auntie David Walliams HarperCollins 18,837
15 Fool Me Once Harlan Coben Century 18,315
16 Mightier Than the Sword Jeffrey Archer Macmillan 18,137
17 The Crossing Michael Connelly Orion 18,076
18 NYPD Red 4 James Patterson Century 18,036
19 Time of Death Mark Billingham Little, Brown 17,932
20 Go Set A Watchman Harper Lee William Heinemann 17,730


Deep backlist and series writers prevail

Daisy Meadows, she of the abundant Flower Fairies series, was the UK’s most-borrowed author of the year in 2016—for a third year running. Though her borrowing rate of 602,319 for the year was around 50,000 loans down on 2015, she decisively saw off a former loan-king, James Patterson, who slipped below the 600,000-loan mark for the first time since losing his crown in 2014. The gap between Patterson and Julia Donaldson has narrowed, from 41,000 loans a year ago to just 5,000 in 2016.

Roald Dahl, in his centenary year, had the most impressive rise of the top 10 writers: from ninth place and 237,299 loans in 2015, to fifth and 333,874 in 2016.

Fiona Watt, creator of Usborne’s That’s Not My... picture-book series, was the top 10’s only new entry, usurping historical fiction author Anna Jacobs. In fact, M C Beaton, Nora Roberts and Patterson are the only adult authors in a top 10 otherwise dominated by children’s writers.

Danielle Steel jumped from 19th in 2015 to 12th place; she was the only author in the 11th-to-20th-place bracket to increase her borrowing rate year on year—albeit by just 727 units.


1 Daisy Meadows 602,319
2 James Patterson 550,358
3 Julia Donaldson 545,352
4 Francesca Simon 367,452
5 Roald Dahl 333,874
6 Adam Blade 321,341
7 M C Beaton 264,777
8 Jacqueline Wilson 257,767
9 Nora Roberts 203,789
10 Fiona Watt 197,303


Date Range = 2016 as a whole (Jan–Dec). Data is from Nielsen LibScan, which covers 70 public library authorities.