Lee Child's Night School named UK's most borrowed library book

Lee Child's Night School named UK's most borrowed library book

Night School by Lee Child (Bantam Press) was the most borrowed library book of 2017/18, according to new statistics.

Figures released today from UK public libraries, compiled using Public Lending Right (PLR) data, showed the Jack Reacher thriller was most popular. In all, 101,636 loans of the book were made, well above the 71,000 recorded by the previous year’s most borrowed novel, Paula Hawkins’ The Girl on the Train (Transworld).

Child was followed by John Grisham’s The Whistler (Hodder), with both writers appearing twice in the top 10.

Continuing the trend for thrillers, Michael Connelly had two books in the top five, with The Wrong Side of Goodbye (Orion) at number three and The Late Show (Orion) at number five.

The biggest children’s title for the second year running was Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Old School by Jeff Kinney (Puffin) – the fourth most popular library title overall with 70,589 books loaned out.

Meanwhile, James Patterson continued his library dominance, being named the most borrowed author overall for the 12th year running. The veteran writer, an outspoken champion of libraries, has held the title since 2006/7.

But children’s writers were generally the most popular, highlighting the role libraries play in supporting literacy from an early age. Seven of the top 10 authors write for children with Daisy Meadows in second place and Julia Donaldson in third. Bestseller was David Walliams number eight on the list, entering the top 10 for the first time.

The figures also show regional trends with books by Margaret Atwood, Zadie Smith and Naomi Alderman making the top 20 in London.

Meanwhile, Scottish readers were more likely to pick up a Rebus novel from Ian Rankin or autobiographies from homegrown names like Judy Murray and Sir Alex Ferguson.

Run by the British Library, PLR is marking its 40 anniversary this year, having been set up by an Act of Parliament in 1979. The scheme gives authors the legal right to receive payment from government each time their books are loaned through the public library system. In February 2019, PLR distributed £6 million to 22,314 authors at a Rate Per Loan of 8.52p.

Tom Holland, chair of the PLR advisory committee, said: “For four decades now, PLR has been acknowledging the role played in the cultural life of the nation by writers, illustrators and translators, and recognising the vital role they play in keeping our public libraries supplied with a truly astounding breadth of reading material.

“I would like to take the opportunity of this 40th anniversary to pay a particular tribute to the campaigning authors who, for many years, tirelessly argued the case for PLR. Their vision and determination has helped to foster entire generations of creative talents. Over the past forty years, more than £150 million has been distributed to authors – a remarkable amount. At a time when writing remains as challenging a way to make a living as it ever has been, the support of PLR – and especially of the staff who run it – is something for which we all extremely grateful indeed.”

Last month, the Government was criticised for not expanding the sample used to calculate PLR to include community-run libraries.