David Walliams' Fing (HarperCollins), illustrated by Tony Ross, has barrelled into the UK Official Top 50 number one spot in its first three days on sale, selling 75,862 copies through Nielsen BookScan’s Total Consumer Market. Though it was marginally down in volume on spring 2018's The World's Worst Children 3—by 2,112 copies—the latter was released on a Tuesday, so had an extra two days on the shelves against Fing's Thursday publication. Fing is by far the biggest-selling number one of the year to date, and the fastest-selling title since (of course) Walliams' own The Ice Monster, released in November 2018.
Compared to the author and illustrator duo’s first spring release, The World’s Worst Children in 2016, which sold 59,334 copies in its own launch week, the spring slot has improved 27% in volume over the last three years. The World's Worst Children trilogy was generally released during the late May half-term holiday, but perhaps the mid-February week could be an even more potent breeding ground for sales.
Fing also achieved Walliams’ 141st Children’s number one, defeating his own Bad Dad from the week before. The half-term holiday no doubt helped the kids’ book market—not only did Walliams and Ross alone score five titles in the Top 50 last week, but J K Rowling’s Harry Potter series also saw a bounce.
Jeff Kinney’s World Book Day title, Diary of Greg Heffley’s Best Friend (Puffin), became the first of the 2019 tranche to enter the Top 50, selling 5,075 copies with still over a week to go before the day itself. It’s possible the week ending the 9th March could come down to a good old-fashioned Kinney vs Walliams, a bout that traditionally takes place in the autumn. Over the past few years, Walliams’ Christmas-gift title has overtaken Kinney’s offering, but perhaps Kinney will claw a scalp back, with the might of World Book Day £1 vouchers behind him.
Half-term also showed its power in the non-fiction charts, with Natural History Museum guide Kids Only receiving its usual boost, and Imperial War Museum guides flocking into the Small Publisher non-fiction chart.
Katie Fforde’s A Rose Petal Summer (Century) stuck its thorns in Sophie Kinsella’s I Owe You One (Bantam), knocking it from the Original Fiction number one. Fforde’s latest paperback, A Country Escape (Arrow), also debuted in the Mass Market Fiction chart in fifth, making for an impressive double. However, Ann Cleeves’ Wild Fire (Pan) was the highest new entry in third place, with a volume of 13,799 copies—the author’s best single-week sale to date, by over 4,000 units.
Mary Berry’s Quick Cooking (BBC) also made its debut, charting straight into the Hardback Non-Fiction number one for her 40th category pole.
After maintaining its sky-high average selling prices from late 2018, the market's value dropped last week against a rise in volume. The 1.9% decline in weekly value to £26.8m and a 1.5% rise in volume, to 2019's highest to date of 3.28 million books sold, averaged out to a selling price of £8.19, the lowest since August last year. Against 2018, however, the market performed strongly across both measures, rising 4.3% in value and 2.9% in volume.