PLR principal Patterson completes a decade as the UK’s most borrowed

PLR principal Patterson completes a decade as the UK’s most borrowed

James Patterson was the most borrowed author through UK public libraries for a 10th consecutive year in 2015/16 (1st July 2015 to 30th June 2016), with Paula Hawkins’ The Girl on the Train (Black Swan) the most borrowed title, according to Public Lending Right (PLR) data. 

Some £6m (after deductions for administration costs) in PLR payments will be made to 222,020 authors next month, at a rate of 7.82p per loan. Patterson’s books were borrowed more than two million times from UK libraries during 2015–16. Alert (Century), the author’s most-borrowed single title, was the sixth most popular book overall. In the past decade, Patterson’s books have been borrowed more than 20 million times. Five other authors have surpassed that landmark: Catherine Cookson, Danielle Steel, Jacqueline Wilson, Josephine Cox and R L Stine.

Hawkins, whose The Girl on the Train has sold 2.24 million copies through Nielsen BookScan UK, for a value of £14m, since its publication in January 2015, said she “could not be more delighted” it was the most borrowed book from UK libraries, with 72,827 loans. She added: “As a voracious reader possessed of a fevered imagination, my childhood visits to the library were a thriller. I credit those weekly trips with making me the reader—and the writer—I became.”

Lee Child’s Personal and Make Me were the second and third most-borrowed titles respectively (both Bantam), with Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul in fourth and fifth place respectively. Harper Lee, who passed away in February 2016, was in seventh place with Go Set a Watchman (William Heinemann).

Mary Berry was the most-borrowed non-fiction author in 2015–16, ranking in 193rd place overall. Her most borrowed title, Mary Berry Cooks the Perfect (DK), clocked up more than 14,000 loans.

David Walliams wrote and narrated the five most-borrowed audiobooks, with Ratburger his most popular, followed by Billionaire BoyGangsta GrannyDemon Dentist and Mr Stink (second to fifth respectively). 

In terms of individual authors, children’s writers dominated the Most Borrowed Authors list, with seven of its 10 entrants from the kids’ sector. Of those, former children’s laureate Julia Donaldson, Daisy Meadows, Francesca Simon and Roderick Hunt all exceeded a million loans. Hunt, author of the Magic Key series of titles that are part of primary school literacy scheme Oxford Reading Tree, was a new entrant to the top 10, jumping 10 places year on year.

Authors are eligible for payment if their PLR earnings exceed £1, with a maximum remuneration sum of £6,600. In the government’s spending review in 2015, PLR funding was frozen; it will remain at £6.6m per year until 2019.


  Title Author Imprint Year
1 The Girl on the Train Paula Hawkins Doubleday 2015
2 Personal Lee Child Bantam 2014
3 Make Me Lee Child Bantam 2015
4 Diary of a Wimpy Kid Jeff Kinney Puffin 2008
5 Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul Jeff Kinney Puffin 2014
6 Alert James Patterson Century 2015
7 Go Set a Watchman Harper Lee Heinemann 2015
8 Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever Jeff Kinney Puffin 2013
9 Awful Auntie David Walliams; T Ross HarperCollins 2014
10 Truth or Die James Patterson Century 2015
11 The Burning Room Michael Connelly Orion 2014
12 Afternoon Tea at the Sunflower Cafe Milly Johnson Simon & Schuster 2015
13 Personal Lee Child Bantam 2015
14 Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules Jeff Kinney Puffin 2009
15 Mightier Than the Sword Jeffrey Archer Macmillan 2015
16 Gray Mountain John Grisham Hodder 2015
17 Gray Mountain John Grisham Hodder 2014
18 14th Deadly Sin James Patterson Century 2015
19 You are Dead Peter James Macmillan 2015
20 Wimpy Kid: Dog Days Jeff Kinney Puffin 2010