Book sales soar as Christmas starts

Book sales soar as Christmas starts

Printed book sales soared by £5.5m week-on-week last week as shoppers finally hit the high street, and logged online, in search of Christmas bargains, but the market remains poor in comparison to last year.

According to Nielsen BookScan Total Consumer Market data, £41m was spent on physical books in the seven days to 26th November, up 15.5% on the previous week, but for the fourth consecutive week, sales were down more than £4m year-on-year. It brings the November deficit to £18.3m (-11.4%) in comparison to 2010.

Hardback non-fiction, the traditional hunting ground for a Christmas gift, enjoyed the biggest week-on-week sales growth last week, with sales soaring 30% according to BookScan Top 5,000 bestseller list data. Titles such as Lee Evans' The Life of Lee (Michael Joseph, up 65% week-on-week); River Cottage Veg Every Day (Bloomsbury, up 38%); Frozen Planet (BBC, up 60%); and Lorraine Pascale's Home Cooking Made Easy (HarperCollins, up 41%) were among the recipients of the biggest sales boosts, while Lady Gaga's coffee table collaboration with photographer Terry Richardson, Lady Gaga X Terry Richardson (Hodder & Stoughton), sold 6,928 copies in its first week on shelves. The lavish credit crunch-busting £35 hardback took £130,000 through bookshop tills.

However, spending on hardback non-fiction was down 20% on the comparative week last year, due principally to a big decline in the celebrity-dominated biographies and memoirs sector. The children's sector, helped by new books by Jeff Kinney, Christopher Paolini and David Walliams, is continuing to outpace last year's sales, with spending up 5% year-on-year last week.

Kinney's new Diary of a Wimpy Kid novel, Cabin Fever (Puffin), was once again the bestselling book in the UK last week, scoring sales of 48,393 copies. Guinness World Records 2012, sales of which were up 14% week-on-week to 44,073 copies sold, takes second position in the chart, while Jamie Oliver's Jamie's Great Britain (Michael Joseph) takes third position with a 24,315 sale. Sales of the latter jumped 20% (4,033 copies) week-on-week, but its 24,315 total sale was down some 73,026 copies on the figure scored by Jamie's 30-minute Meals in the comparative week last year.

Patricia Cornwell's 19th Kay Scarpetta thriller, Red Mist, sold 14,529 copies in its three days on sale last week and débuts in pole position in this week's Original Fiction chart. It is the first time the US novelist has topped the chart in almost three years as her previous two titles, Port Mortuary (2010) and The Scarpetta Factor (2009), both fell short of the Original Fiction number one.

James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge's Tick Tock, the fourth novel in their Michael Bennett series, is the highest new entry in this week's Top 20 Mass-market Fiction chart, débuting in second position. Michael Connelly's fourth Mickey Haller thriller, The Fifth Witness, retains pole position, but only by virtue of the fact the 22,105 sales of Kathryn Stockett's The Help were split between two different editions (in fifth and eighth place in the Top 20).