Printed book sales slump to new 2011 low

Printed book sales slump to new 2011 low

Spending on printed books in the UK slumped for a third consecutive week to a new 2011 low, with this week's number one the lowest-selling top title for more than seven years.

According to Nielsen BookScan data, just £25m was spent at UK booksellers in the seven days to 19th March—down 3% (£0.8m) week-on-week and down 4.5% (£1.2m) on the same week last year. It is the poorest week of sales in spending terms since May last year and the lowest in the month of March since 2005.

Spending on novels was particularly low, with the amount spent through BookScan's Top 5,000 bestseller list down 16% (£0.9m) year-on-year—despite new releases from the likes of Danielle Steel, James Patterson, Katie Fforde and TV’s Fern Britton. Hardback sales were down some 35% year-on-year, with paperback sales down a shallower but still disappointing 11%.

Other areas suffering from lacklustre sales include travel maps/guides (once again), and hardback children’s books—in part due to the fact Stephenie Meyer’s Breaking Dawn was still selling in solid numbers this time last year.

Following a three-week hiatus, TV chef Jamie Oliver returns to the summit of The Official UK Top 50 this week, this time with his Comic Relief tie-in, Jamie's Monster Bake Sale (Penguin). The 32-page publication sold 18,552 copies last week — the lowest weekly sale from a number one since January 2004 when Joseph O’Connor’s Star of the Sea (Vintage) claimed pole position with a sale of just 18,225 copies.

Ian McEwan’s Solar (Vintage) retains its mass-market fiction top-spot week-on-week but its 15,011 weekly sale is the lowest from a mass-market fiction number one since October 2002.

Meanwhile, Fiona Goble's Knit Your Own Royal Wedding (Ivy Press) hits the Top 20 Paperback Non-fiction bestseller list for the first time and is the early pace-setter in the incredibly competitive Royal Wedding sales race.