Since the Man Booker longlist was announced in July, Hilary Mantel's Bring Up the Bodies has been by far the most popular contender for the prize in sales terms, scoring sales of 16,600 copies at UK booksellers. It sold almost three times as many copies as the next bestselling book on the longlist, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry (6,500), and six times as many copies as its closest shortlist contender, Will Self's Umbrella (2,700).
In total, 24,000 copies of the shortlisted novels have been picked up a UK booksellers since the longlist was announced on 25th July. In comparison, Lee Child's latest Jack Reacher thriller, A Wanted Man (Bantam Press), sold 24,250 copies in its first three days on sale at the end of August, while E L James’ Fifty Shades of Grey novels have sold 2.8m copies.
Nielsen BookScan data reveals print sales of the longlisted novels have slumped 20% year on year. In part, this is down to the fact there were only 12 books on the 2012 longlist, compared to 13 on the 2011 list, while some print sales will undoubtedly have been lost to the digital sector of the market.
Sales of shortlisted books since longlist announcement:
Bring Up the Bodies, Hilary Mantel (Fourth Estate): 16,600
Umbrella, Will Self (Bloomsbury): 2,700
Swimming Home, Deborah Levy (And Other Stories/Faber): 1,450
The Lighthouse, Alison Moore (Salt): 1,250
The Garden of Evening Mists, Tan Twan Eng (Myrmidon): 1,050
Narcopolis, Jeet Thayil (Faber): 950