Printed book sales fall almost £100m in 2013

Printed book sales fall almost £100m in 2013

The value of the printed book market fell by £98m in 2013, Nielsen BookScan data reveals.

A total of £1.416bn was spent on printed books in the 52-week period ending 28th December - down 6.5% versus 2012. Volume sales fell a sharper 9.8% (18.2m), to 183.9m, while average selling prices grew 2.8%, or 21p year on year, to £7.70.

The average selling price of a printed book reached a nine-year high in 2013. However, the size of the printed book market slumped to an 11-year low in both volume and value terms.

Digital migration is partly to blame for the big drop in sales. Nielsen's most recent "Understanding the E-book Consumer" report, based on Kantar Worlpanel consumer data, revealed that more than 2m UK residents joined the e-book market in the first nine months of 2013. However, the fall in the value of the printed book market is exaggerated by the dramatic slowdown in sales of E L James' novels.

In 2012, E L James' Fifty Shades trilogy sold in record-breaking numbers. At her peak, in late June/early July, sales of E L James' three erotic works accounted for almost half of all novels bought in the UK. In total, the British writer was worth £47.3m to booksellers in 2012, but in 2013 she was worth just 3% of that figure (£1.4m).

Stripping E L James out of the statistics reveals a truer picture of the health of the printed book market - sales totalling £1.414bn, down a shallower 3.5%, or £51.9m, year on year.

Sir Alex Ferguson's My Autobiography (Hodder & Stoughton), which topped the bestseller lists on Christmas Day, proved the bestselling book of the year, selling 803,084 copies. The hardback edition of Dan Brown's Inferno (Bantam Press) proved the bestselling novel of the year, selling 640,676 copies, while Jeff Kinney's eighth Diary of a Wimpy Kid novel, Hard Luck (Puffin), was the most popular children's book of the year, selling 410,985 units.

The first instalment in The Bookseller's authoritative Review of the Year feature series will be published on Friday 10th January 2014.