Review of 2018: Independent Alliance

Review of 2018: Independent Alliance

It was a mixed bag for the 16 members of the Independent Alliance, with its biggest member bagging the Man Booker and others enjoying big-screen boosts, but others suffered year on year tumbles.

1. Faber

Sally Rooney and Man Booker winner Anna Burns (pictured) had £1m+ sellers through BookScan for Faber, which rose 14.4% to a TCM record of £20.6m. It had a Christmas hit in Mike D and King Ad-Rock’s Beastie Boys Book (£537,000, its fourth bestseller by value) while Leïla Slimani’s Lullaby sold £811,000 in all editions.

2. Lonely Planet

A 3.5% slip for Lonely Planet, but in the challenging travel market. At £13.7m, it remains by far the biggest specialist publisher in its sector. And sales have rebounded. Its last three TCM returns have been over £13m; in the first four years of the Noughties, it shifted £9m annually.

3. Canongate

Matt Haig wrote Canongate’s top four titles, helping it to an 18.1% rise and generating 31% of its £8.2m in sales. Robert Sears’ Trump and Putin spoofs combined to earn £447,000, while Samin Nosrat’s 2017 cookery title, Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, had a 2018 boost thanks to a Netflix series.

4. Profile

Profile dipped 13% to £7.6m, though it was going against a 2017 when it had massive hits with Mary Beard’s Women and Power and Sarah Perry’s The Essex Serpent. Those books, tellingly, were Profile’s bestsellers in 2018, too. Its top new title was Shaun Bythell’s The Diary of a Bookseller.

5. Pavilion

A robust 12% leap for Pavilion to £4.8m; it is climbing back up the TCM table after the bonanza of the adult colouring trends of a few years ago. The standout last year was social media star Ben Lebus’ budget cookery title, MOB Kitchen (£150,000).

6. Atlantic

Hollywood adaptations greatly helped Atlantic to a 24.8% rise to £4.3m. Andre Aciman’s Call Me By Your Name was its bestseller, shifting £443,000, while three titles in Kevin Kwan’s Crazy Rich Asians series combined to earn £315,000. Isabel Hardman’s Why We Get the Wrong Politicians was shortlisted for Waterstones Book of the Year, while its top fiction débuts included Caroline Bond’s The Second Child and The Illumination of Ursula Flight by Anna-Marie Crowhurst.

Sally Rooney's Normal People was a hit for Faber in 2018

7. Granta

The near-6% rise for Granta (to £3.2m) was driven by prizes. Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata, named Foyles’ Book of the Year, was its top earner (£247,000), followed by Nick Drnaso’s Sabrina, the first and only graphic novel to be Man Booker shortlisted.

8. Short Books

Short Books’ 27.8% decline though the TCM (to £2.3m), the steepest of all the Indie Alliance publishers, was primarily down to serious lack of a new Dr Michael Mosley title. The diet and nutrition author was still the author (or co-author) of four of Short’s top eight books topped by 2015’s The 8-Week Blood Sugar Diet.

9. Icon

A slight drop (-1.9% to £1.3m) at Icon, whose top seller was David E Hoffman’s The Billion Dollar Spy (£156,000), a Waterstones Non-Fiction Book of the Month in August.

10. Scribe

Scribe slipped 10.5% with sales dipping under £1m (to £923,000) for the first time in four years. Giuila Enders’ Gut was by far the bestseller—as it has been in every year since its 2015 release.

11. Murdoch

The UK outpost of the Aussie lifestyle and cookery publisher Murdoch has, alas, slipped to its lowest-ever TCM haul, down 21% to £751,000. Its bestseller, Sue Quinn’s Easy Vegan, shifted just 5,100 copies for £69,000. That title, however, did earn its best ever yearly total since it was released in 2015.

12. David Fickling Books

An expected drop at David Fickling Books, which fell 19% to £685,000. TCM sales of Philip Pullman’s La Belle Sauvage are recorded with co-publisher PRH Children’s, but DFB still had Pullman’s Daemon Voices in 2017. Lissa Evans’ Wed Wabbit was its 2018 top seller.

13. Pushkin

Pushkin had a 9.3% slip to £621,000, with Pajtim Statovci’s My Cat Yugoslavia not quite matching its cult hit status of 2017.

14. Sort Of

Sort Of dropped 20% to £432,000, but it had released a tranche of Tove Jansson Moomin titles in late 2017.

15. Daunt Books

Daunt Books had a 15% jump to £361,000.

16. New York Review of Books

New York Review of Books rose 39.6%, albeit to just £39,000.

Read our Review of 2018: The Big Four Publishers here and our Review of 2018: Specialist Publishers here.