Book sales dropped 9% last week as the Easter weekend cut into retail time, but the market was still up on the same week last year with sales up 2.1%, a second consecutive week of year-on-year growth after a dismal March. Book sales through the Total Consumer Market were £23.6m after just shy of 3.3m books were sold in the week to 23rd April.
Philippa Gregory's The Red Queen (Simon & Schuster), the second book in her Cousins' War series, took the top spot in The Official UK Top 50 thanks to a second-week sale of 30,594 copies, almost double the previous number one, James Patterson and Maxine Paetro's Women's Murder Club thriller, 9th Judgement (Arrow).
Gregory's success—the book is also top of the mass market chart—heralds a good week for S&S, which also scored a number one in the original fiction chart with Jackie Collins' Goddess of Vengeance. It is the publisher's first double fiction number one.
Kerr MacRae, S&S executive director, put this success down to carefully considered packaging for both novels. The publisher went "back to basics" with the Collins novel with a lower price and branding that was modern enough to attract new readers while focusing on the author, according to MacRae, while Gregory’s books were reinvented with "filmic" covers. MacRae added: "It just goes to show that if the position is correct, the book is good, and you make enough noise about it, new people can be persuaded to read books they’ve not tried before, even in difficult times. We are pretty sure we’ve picked up new readers—there was no reason why they shouldn’t pick the books up: they’re brilliant novels, they look good and the price is right."
Booksellers have also reported increased sales of Royal Wedding-related titles in the run-up to the nuptials on Friday. Waterstone's Windsor bookseller Andrew Wanford said all the Royal Wedding titles in store had been selling more over the past few days: "You could definitely say uplift. We've sold about 20 copies [of Royal Wedding titles] just today. It's mainly Americans who are buying them." He anticipated interest to be sustained over the weekend, but to "drop off" after that point.
Foyles and bookseller Hatchards also reported interest in tie-in books. In the top 50, however, the impact has so far been minimal with Kate the Royal Wedding Fairy (Orchard) the top title in 42nd spot, followed by William and Kate: The Royal Wedding (Ladybird) in 50th position.