Why Vote Leave leads Brexit book sales

Why Vote Leave leads Brexit book sales

Three EU referendum titles have charted in the top 5,000 bestselling books of the week after rival campaigns kicked off, with Daniel Hannan’s Why Vote Leave rocketing up the chart.

The 'Vote Leave' campaign lobbying for a Brexit - shorthand for the UK leaving the European Union - is battling for votes with the 'Britain Stronger in Europe' campaign, which both officially launched last Thursday (14th April). The referendum will be held on 23rd June.

While David Charter’s Europe: In or Out? Everything You Need to Know (Biteback) is leading the charge of the EU Referendum titles, selling 3,186 in total including 660 last week and charting in 410th place, Hannan’s Why Vote Leave (Head of Zeus) stormed up the chart last week to 123rd place, selling 1,621 copies for 2,630 in total.

David Torrence’s EU Referendum: A Guide for Voters (Luath Press) charted for the first time in the chart this week, selling 223 copies for 1,435th place, while Denis McShane’s How Britain will Leave Europe (I.B Tauris) has sold 1,221 copies since August. Meanwhile, discussing the European Union on a wider scale, Yanis Varoufakis’ And the Weak Suffer What They Must? (Bodfey Head) moved into 137th place, selling 1,557 copies and 4,736 in total.

Clement Knox, Watestones’ non-fiction buyer responsible for politics, amongst other categories, said: “We have seen a significant uplift of interest in titles on the referendum with the best-sellers being objective guides to the issues for voters such as David Charter’s Europe: In or Out? and David Torrence’s EU Referendum: A Guide For Voters. The more polemical referendum books are heavily skewed towards those arguing for Brexit, such as MEP Daniel Hannan’s Why Vote Leave.”

He added: “We expect interest in all referendum titles to continue to gain momentum as we approach June, though inevitably there will be sharp drop-off once we are past the 23rd.”

Catherine Barter, co-manager of radical bookshop Housmans, said that there has "definitely been a level of interest" in Brexit-related titles, "but they haven't been run away successes".

“We stock Brexit by McShane, The EU: An Obituary by John R. Gillingham and little pamphlets about the referendum", she said. "Charter’s Europe: In or Out? has sold a few but isn’t necessarily ‘taking off’. We have quite a lot of books about the political situation in Europe politically more broadly, not just concerning Brexit, which we’ve seen interest in. We’ll be keeping an eye out as the referendum nears.”

However, Ross Bradshaw, owner of the radical bookseller Five Leaves Bookshop in Nottingham said he has ordered "virtually nothing" on the EU debate. "We haven’t felt the demand for it, even though we sell political books,” he said. “None look very exciting. From our point of view, as a radical bookseller, there’s been nothing of bookselling interest.”

A survey of people in the trade conducted by The Bookseller in February before the referendum date was confirmed showed that 70.6% were against leaving the EU, with 27.1% planning to vote in favour of leaving and 2.1% undecided. At the time trade figures such as Waterstones m.d. James Daunt, Bonnier Publishing c.e.o. Richard Johnson and Alma Books m.d. Alessandro Gallenzi said leaving the EU would be a disaster for the book trade and for the country.  

A separate survey conducted last year revealed that 54% of Independent Publishers Guild members said their company would be “worse off” if it left Europe, whereas just 3% said their company would be better off.

Last month, former business secretary Vince Cable said that Brexit would lead to “gross uncertainty, legal challenge and mess” in a discussion about the creative industries and business at the IPG conference.