£1 World Book Day books storm to the top of the charts

£1 World Book Day books storm to the top of the charts

The latest crop of £1 World Book Day books, led by Cope & Davies' Spy Dog/The Great Pet Shop Panic (Puffin/S&S) take positions one-through-six in this week's Official UK Top 50, with sales totalling 247,235 copies—a significant proportion of which will have come via pupils' £1 book token redemptions.

The combined sales figure is down 8% on last year's £1 titles in the comparative week, and down 40% on the pre-flip-book days of 2008, although no doubt many tokens were once again redeemed against the price of "regular" children's books—not least L J Smith's latest Vampire Diaries instalment, Midnight, and the mass-market edition of John Grisham's first YA novel, Theodore Boone (both Hodder), both of which sold more than 10,000 copies last week.

But as children went back to school following the half-term break, total spending on children's books through Nielsen BookScan's Top 5,000 bestseller chart fell by 12% week-on-week, and was down around 3-4% on World Book Day week last year.

Jamie Oliver's Jamie's 30-Minute Meals (Michael Joseph) was once again the bestselling book for adult audiences in the UK last week, despite the fact its sales fell by 21% week-on-week. It means Oliver's latest hardback cookbook has now spent 23 weeks atop The Bookseller's Hardback Non-fiction chart and is closing in on the 25-week record held by Lynne Truss' punctuation primer, Eats, Shoots & Leaves (Profile).

Helped by a plethora of new releases from the likes of Alexander McCall Smith, Patrick Rothfuss, Clive Cussler, Joanna Trollope and Raymond E Feist, all of which début in the Top 20 Original Fiction chart, spending on novels jumped 3% week-on-week, according to BookScan Top 5,000 data. However, overall fiction sales were down around 10% on the same week last year, due largely to a drop in paperback fiction popularity.

Some mass-market novels—those featured on BBC's "Faulks on Fiction" and "My Life in Books" series—did enjoy significantly stronger sales last week than in the comparative week last year. Zoe Heller's Notes on a Scandal (Penguin) and Wilkie Collins' The Woman in White (Vintage), both mentioned on the former, climbed more than 1,000 places in the charts week-on-week, while the Wordsworth editions of both George Eliot's Middlemarch and Virginia Woolf's Orlando climbed at least 10,000 places thanks to plugs on the latter.

Meanwhile, 21 of the 25 World Book Night books enjoyed a week-on-week sales boost last week, and 23 of the 25 sold more copies last week than in the same week last year. The average year-on-year sales boost enjoyed by the 25 titles last week was an impressive 186% — equating to around 15,000 extra sales.

Despite World Book Day/World Book Night, however, overall book sales fell 3.2% week-on-week, to £27.6m—down 4.9% on the same week last year.