Casual Vacancy takes top spot

Casual Vacancy takes top spot

J K Rowling's The Casual Vacancy (Little, Brown) has officially become the fastest-selling book in the UK in more than three years. But its first week-sale of 124,603 copies falls some way short of Dan Brown's record for the fastest-selling adult novel since records began—set by The Lost Symbol (Bantam Press) in 2009 with an opening-week sale of 550,946 copies.

The Casual Vacancy's first-week sales figure, which is for print editions only, falls short of the sales of her last Harry Potter outing, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Bloomsbury), which sold 2.6m copies in its first 24 hours on bookshop shelves, while E L James still holds the record for the biggest weekly sale for a novel in 2012, with the mass-market edition of her Fifty Shades of Grey selling 665,000 copies in the week ending 7th July—three months after Arrow's mass-market edition was first published.

The Casual Vacancy's 124,603 sale, though, is the second biggest opening-week sale for a hardback novel for adult audiences since records began in 1998—ahead of the likes of Thomas Harris' Hannibal (58,300) and Sebastian Faulks' Devil May Care (44,100). It also obliterates the 2012 record for the fastest-selling hardback novel, set by Lee Child's A Wanted Man (Bantam Press), by more than five copies to one.

Little, Brown Book Group publisher David Shelley said: “We are delighted with the first partial week sales for The Casual Vacancy, which make it the fastest-selling novel in the UK for three years. Sales across print and ebook editions have exceeded our expectations".

In total, £1.3m was spent on copies of The Casual Vacancy, which was discounted by 47.5% on average last week. The hardback novel, priced £20, sold for just £10.50 on average according to Nielsen BookScan data.

It was one of many books that hit bookshop shelves on 27th September—one of the biggest dates in the 2012 publishing calendar. According to Nielsen, 231 hardback books were officially released in the UK the day - three times the daily average. Of those 231, two sold more than 20,000 copies, and 19 enjoyed sales of 1,000 copies or more—similar levels to the 13th September when 20 hardbacks released on the day sold 1,000 copies or more in their first week on shelves.

Jamie Oliver's new cookbook, Jamie's 15-minute Meals (Michael Joseph), was one of the 27th September releases and jumps straight into pole position in this week's Hardback Non-fiction chart with a 20,682 sale. He has now spent 60 weeks at the summit of that bestseller chart in the past five years - well ahead of the next most prolific chart-toppers, the Hairy Bikers (16). 

In the battle of the reality TV judges, Jessie J ("The Voice") narrowly defeated Tulisa ("The X Factor"). Sales of the former's Nice to Meet You outsold the latter's Honest by 6,255 copies to 4,647 last week.

Helped by the release of The Casual Vacancy and numerous other hardbacks, total spending on printed books at UK booksellers jumped 9.8% (£2.9m) week-on-week, to £32.2m — a 2012 high. For only the 10th week this year (out of 39), sales were also up year on year - by 0.4%, or £120,000.