Book sales soar week on week, remain down on 2010

Book sales soar week on week, remain down on 2010

Printed book sales soared by £8.6m week on week last week, but spending remains down on last year, Nielsen BookScan data reveals. According to BookScan, £58.4m was spent at UK book retail outlets in the seven days to 10th December, up 17.4% on the previous week, but down 11.4% on the comparative week last year.

Helped by huge levels of discounting by the major book retailers, Jamie Oliver’s Jamie’s Great Britain (Michael Joseph) was the bestselling book in the UK last week, and tops the Official UK Top 50 for the first time. Oliver’s new cookbook sold 61,239 copies last week, at an average selling price of just £9.64 last week—68% off its £30 r.r.p.

In total, the book took £591,000 through the tills after retailers gave away £1.25m in promotional discounting, but it was by no means the only bargain to be found in bookshops last week. According to Nielsen BookScan data, 34 of the top 100 bestselling hardbacks last week were discounted by 50% or more on average, compared to 16 in the comparative week last year.

The average discount offered on sales of the top 100 hardbacks last week was 49.8%, compared to 46.2% in the same week last year and 38% in the comparative week in 2006.

Despite the enticing discounts, sales last week were down £7.5m on last year, with the hardback non-fiction and paperback fiction sectors suffering the biggest slumps. According to BookScan top 5,000 bestseller list data, sales of paperback novels were down 30% last week, with just six paperback novels enjoying 10,000-plus sales in comparison to 23 in the same week last year.

Within hardback non-fiction, the cookbook market remains down on 2010 (by 30%) despite the success of titles such as Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Veg Every Day! (Bloomsbury) and Lorraine Pascale’s Home Cooking Made Easy (HarperCollins). The biography and memoirs market, meanwhile, is slumping by a similar figure (-35%) due principally to a decline in the celebrity-dominated “arts” sub-genre— ales of which were down 60% year-on-year last week.

Lee Evans’ The Life of Lee (Michael Joseph) remains the bestselling celebrity memoir of 2011 with hardback sales of 198,200 copies and counting. However, four celebrity memoirs had achieved more than 200,000 sales by this point last year, led by Stephen Fry’s The Fry Chronicles and Michael McIntyre’s Life and Laughing (both Michael Joseph), with sales of 273,000 and 236,000 copies respectively.

Evans' The Life of Lee was the fourth bestselling book in the UK last week, scoring sales of 31,401 copies. Between Evans and Oliver in the Official UK Top 50 sit Guinness World Records (60,867 copies sold) and Jeff Kinney's Cabin Fever (Puffin, 41,576 sales).

Data from BookScan's General Retail Market (GRM) panel of retailers, which includes bricks and mortar branches of Waterstone's, W H Smith, Tesco and Asda, suggests spending on the high street is particularly poor in comparison to last year. Sales within the GRM last week were down almost 20% year-on-year.