Richard Osman, Reni Eddo-Lodge and Charlie Mackesy are among the winners of this year's Nielsen Bestseller Awards.
At the annual ceremony, which took place virtually on Wednesday 17th March, authors received honours for significant lifetime sales, as measured by Nielsen BookScan and PubTrack Digital across both print and e-book formats.
The awards are based on UK sales volumes and were presented to those that passed sales thresholds during 2020. The thresholds were marked Silver (250,000 sales), Gold (500,000 sales), and Platinum (1,000,000 sales). Twenty-seven titles in all were awarded Silver, Gold or Platinum status. The sales have helped contribute to another robust year despite the challenges that lockdown brought to the retail sector of the UK book industry with Nielsen Book estimating the total year at 202 million print books sold to the value of £1.8bn.
All titles that achieve Platinum status are inducted into the "21st century Hall of Fame", which now includes 149 titles. In 2020, eight books passed the Platinum Award million copy sales threshold.
Although published in 2019, Charlie Mackesy’s The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse (Ebury Press) was the bestselling title of 2020 and achieved Platinum status, as did Richard Osman’s The Thursday Murder Club (Viking). Osman thanked booksellers in his acceptance speech, and said: "More than anything, a big thank you to all the people who have sold the book, all the booksellers up and down the country — it was such a tough year in 2020, and I know that's continuing at the moment. I hope in 2021 we can all sell an awful lot more books and I look forward to travelling across the country to meet many readers and booksellers."
Three children’s titles also achieved Platinum status, including George's Marvellous Medicine by Roald Dahl (Puffin), Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever by Jeff Kinney (Puffin) and The Boy in the Dress by David Walliams & Quentin Blake (HarperCollins Childrens Books). Sally Rooney’s Normal People (Faber) and Robert Galbraith’s The Cuckoo's Calling (Sphere) also became Platinum bestsellers, as did Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, originally published in 1813.
Reflecting on the success of Pride and Prejudice, Penguin Classics editorial director Jessica Harrison said: “Penguin Books first published Pride and Prejudice back in 1938, in a cheap paperback edition with woodcut illustrations. Since then Austen’s best-loved novel has been an evergreen bestseller for us, published in countless different editions over the years. During lockdown last year we saw readers turn to the most iconic and enduring classics on our list, we saw sales of our main edition of Pride and Prejudice rise by 22%. It’s heartening to think that in difficult times, readers turn to classic books such as Pride and Prejudice for solace and pleasure more than ever.”
Matt Haig received a Gold award for Reasons to Stay Alive and three of his other titles achieving sales of over 250,000, including How to Stop Time, The Humans and The Midnight Library, the paperback edition of which is currently a UK bestseller. All are published by Canongate.
Chef Tom Kerridge achieved two awards: Lose Weight for Good (Gold) and Proper Pub Food (Silver), both published by Bloomsbury's Absolute.
Gold Awards were also presented to Eddo-Lodge for Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race (Bloomsbury), Beth O'Leary for The Flatshare (Quercus), Lisa Jewell for The Family Upstairs (Arrow), Harriet Tyce for Blood Orange (Wildfire), Kathryn Hughes for The Letter (Headline Review) and Christy Lefteri for The Beekeeper of Aleppo (Manilla). Silver Awards were presented to: Lucy Foley for The Guest List (HarperFiction), Bridget Collins for The Binding (Borough Press), Matthew Syed for You Are Awesome (Wren and Rook), Heidi Perks for Now You See Her (Century) and Erin Kinsley for Found (Headline). David Baddiel has also crossed the threshold for four of his children’s books, The Person Controller, Head Kid, Birthday Boy and The Parent Agency (HarperCollins Childrens Books).
Andre Breedt, m.d. of Nielsen Book said: “We are delighted to be celebrating the fifth Nielsen Bestseller Awards, albeit virtually on social media. It feels more important than ever to recognise and celebrate the incredible role books have played in our lives this last year. Whether it was reading for escapism or keeping us calm, helping to homeschool our children or the source of the best binge-worthy TV series; books were and continue to be at the centre of our lives. Indeed without books, knowledge would not have transferred across the ages from diaries of former pandemics to medical journals contributing to new vaccines. Never have books been more needed, or appreciated.”