Cold snap book sales plunge 16% year on year

Cold snap book sales plunge 16% year on year

Printed book sales slipped 3% week on week last week, and were down 16% year on year as the recent cold snap froze high street tills. In total, £24.3m was spent at UK book retail outlets in the seven days to 11th February 2012, down £0.7m on the previous week and down £4.6m on the same week last year.

The TV tie-in edition of Jennifer Worth's Call the Midwife (Phoenix) was the bestselling book in a slow week for booksellers, selling 18,882 copies according to Nielsen BookScan Total Consumer Market data. Last week's number one, S J Watson's Before I Go to Sleep (Black Swan), falls one place to second position overall, while Peter Robinson's Before the Poison (Hodder) climbs four places into third.

Anita Shreve’s Rescue (Abacus) and Eric Van Lustbader’s The Bourne Dominion (Orion) enter the Official UK Top 50 in 13th and 14th positions as the highest new entries thanks to W H Smith promotions. The former was a member of the retailer’s “£2.99 with the Times” link-save promotion and sold 9,649 copies last week, while the latter was the retailer’s half-price “book of the week” and enjoyed a 9,027-copy sale.

Lancastrian Josephine Cox's Three Letters (HarperCollins) was the bestselling hardback novel of the week, scoring the novelist her first Original Fiction number one in three years. Sales of her new novel benefitted from big discounts on the high street, plunging the hardback’s average selling price to £7.55—49.6% off its £14.99 r.r.p.

Watson’s Before I Go to Sleep tops the Mass-market Fiction chart for a sixth consecutive week. The last début novel to achieve this feat was Victoria Hislop’s The Island (Headline Review) five and a half years ago.

Two books published in celebration of the monarch’s Diamond Jubilee début in the non-fiction charts this week. Andrew Marr’s The Diamond Queen (Macmillan), published five months ago, charts in 13th position in the Hardback list thanks to the tie-in TV series, while Sally Bedell Smith, who has penned biographies of the Kennedys, Clintons, and Diana, Princess of Wales, joins the Paperback Non-fiction bestseller list with Elizabeth the Queen (Penguin).

Seven other biographies of Queen Elizabeth II charted in Nielsen BookScan’s top 5,000 bestseller list last week, including Annie Bullen’s Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II  Diamond Jubilee Souvenir (Pitkin), and Robert Lacey’s A Brief Life of the Queen (Duckworth).

Although paperback novels continue to struggle in the digital age, one author is enjoying record sales in the sector: Charles Dickens. A total of 26 different editions of Dickens’ numerous novels sold more than 100 copies at UK booksellers last week, up from 15 last week and just four in the comparative week last year. Helped by its TV adaptation by the BBC, Great Expectations proved the pick of the bunch. Seven different editions sold more than 100 copies last week, combining for 2,060 sales (£10,050 in value terms).

Valentine’s Day, meanwhile, made its presence felt at bookshops last week, with books such as Edward Monkton’s Love Monkey and A Lovely Love Story (both HarperCollins), Summersdale’s It Must Be Love, and Sam McBratney’s Guess How Much I Love You (Walker) all enjoying solid sales.