Print book sales hit 2012 high

Thanks to the record-breaking popularity of E L James' Fifty Shades trilogy, printed book sales soared to a 2012 high last week.

According to Nielsen BookScan Total Consumer Market data, £27.8m was spent on physical books at UK booksellers last week—up 4.2% (£1.1m) on the previous week and up 10.5% (£2.7m) on the same week last year. It is only the sixth week in 2012 that printed book sales were higher than last year.

The buoyant sales are due in no small part to James, who enjoyed yet another sales surge last week, further entrenching the British novelist's command at the summit of the Official UK Top 50. Sales of the three novels totalled 978,197 copies at UK booksellers in the seven days to 30th June—up 14% on the previous week.

In total, £4.7m was spent on copies of the Fifty Shades novels, meaning roughly 17p in every £1 spent on a book last week went towards a copy of one of E L James' three books, or approximately 40p in every £1 spent on a novel.

Sales of book one in the series, Fifty Shades of Grey (Arrow), rocketed 21% week on week, to a total of 482,785 copies. Only four books have sold more copies in a single week in the UK since Nielsen BookScan records began in 1998: Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol (Transworld) and three of J K Rowling's Harry Potter novels: The Order of the Phoenix, The Half-Blood Prince and Deathly Hallows (all published by Bloomsbury).

Fifty Shades Darker takes second position in the chart with a 264,984 sale—up from 245,801 last week—while the final book in the series, Fifty Shades Freed, takes third position with a 229,171 seven-day sale, up from 212,832. In addition, a new Boxed Set edition, meanwhile, sold 1,257 copies at UK bookshops last week.

Fifty Shades of Grey has become the ninth bestselling British novel since records began—surpassing the likes of David Nicholls' One Day (Hodder), Ian McEwan's Atonement (Vintage) and Helen Fielding's Bridget Jones's Diary (Picador). Its total sales now stand at 1,645,422 copies—a total it has racked up in just 12 weeks. It took the bestselling paperback of all time, Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code (Corgi), 46 weeks to achieve this figure.

However, James shows little sign of positively affecting the rest of the fiction market with underlying paperback fiction sales through BookScan’s top 5,000 chart down 30% year on year if E L James' figures are excluded.