Market thaws but continues to be down on 2009

<p>Sales bounced back at bookshops last week after recent weather-induced misery, but spending at UK booksellers remains down on last year.<br /><br />According to Nielsen BookScan data, &pound;65.9m was spent at UK book retail outlets during the seven days to 11th December, up a terrific 30.6% (&pound;15.5m) week-on-week, but down 4.5% (&pound;3.1m) on the same week last year.<br /><br />As the big freeze thawed, high street booksellers benefited the most. Sales through BookScan&#39;s General Retail Market panel, a good indicator of high street bookshop performance, were up 42.3% week-on-week&mdash;a much larger hike than the 18.6% jump over the comparative two weeks last year.<br /><br />But although spending at UK booksellers last week was much higher than the weather-afflicted week ending 4th December (when spending was down 18.4%, or &pound;11.4m year-on-year), the recovery was not large enough to drag book sales into positive year-on-year territory.<br /><br />The bestselling book was Jamie Oliver&#39;s <em>Jamie&#39;s 30-minute Meals</em> (Michael Joseph), life sales of which now total 874,447 copies. It means in just 11 weeks it has become the third bestselling hardback non-fiction book since BookScan records began in 1998.<br /><br />Oliver&#39;s title needs to sell 121,000 copies this week to take second position on that all-time list (ahead of Lynne Truss&#39; <em>Eats, Shoots and Leaves</em>) and 141,000 copies to pass Delia Smith&#39;s <em>How to Cook: Book One</em>.<br /><br />Sales of <em>30-Minute Meals</em> were up 26% week-on-week, but many books enjoyed bigger boosts, not least Lord Sugar&#39;s <em>What You See is What You Get</em> (Macmillan, up 61% week-on-week) and Stephen Fry&#39;s <em>The Fry Chronicles</em> (Michael Joseph, up 40%). Last week, sales of the celebrity memoir genre were up 27% year-on-year.<br /><br />One genre that is underperforming in comparison to 2009, however, is children&#39;s annuals&sbquo; sales of which were down around 15% year-on-year, with year-end sales looking likely to be lower than the previous year for the first time since 2003. </p><p>TV star Aleksandr Orlov&#39;s <em>A Simples Life</em> (Ebury) looks set to become the quirky surprise Christmas hit of the year, but numerous backlist titles which have been unexpected Christmas hits in the past have been enjoying solid sales. </p><p>Titles such as Richard Benson&#39;s <em>F in Exams </em>(Summersdale), Simon Tofield&#39;s original <em>Simon&#39;s Cat</em> (Canongate) and Iain Hollingshead&#39;s <em>Am I Alone in Thinking . . .</em> (Aurum) all took more than &pound;10,000 at UK booksellers last week.</p>