Book sales up 5% at Edinburgh festival

Book sales up 5% at Edinburgh festival

Book sales at Edinburgh International Book Festival grew by more than 5% on last year with more than 66,000 titles shifted. 

Ticket sales for the 17-day festival were up by more than 4% and the bestselling book was Nasty Women, edited by Heather McDaid and Laura Jones, from Scottish-based indie 404 Ink, which received a 258% boost in the first full week of the festival according to Nielsen BookScan.

The Bookseller understands that 66,106 books had been shifted by festival booksellers by close of play Monday (28th August), with the bookshop still open on Tuesday (29th August). Last year, just over 63,000 books were sold.

More than 1,000 authors, illustrators, poets, politicians and performers from 50 countries descended on the city's Charlotte Square Gardens and George Street for the annual event, which saw record-breaking footfall in the gardens of more than 250,000 – the largest audience in the 34-year history of the festival and a "significant increase" on last year, organisers said. 

Featured authors included Paul Auster, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in conversation with Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon as well as Elif Shafak, Jackie Kay, Judy Murray and David Mitchell. Zadie Smith, Ian Rankin and Roxane Gay also appeared.

Fifty debut novels and short story collections were featured in the programme with writers from as far afield as Egypt, Argentina, Iceland, France, the United Arab Emirates and the USA. Six authors shortlisted for the 2017 Man Booker Prize attended, as did the winner of last year’s prize, David Grossman.

As well as expanding into George Street for the first time, the event also included mini-festivals in Irvine, East Kilbride and Aberdeen as part of the Booked! programme, supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery. 

The festival’s theme of ‘Brave New Worlds’ was revealed in June to discuss the “backdrop of political earthquakes” according to festival director Nick Barley.

The festival will extend into the autumn with Orhan Pamuk appearing on 17th September and Alan Hollinghurst speaking on 10th October.

Mitchell, who helped select this year’s guests, said: “The Edinburgh International Book Festival is now a tangible national asset. Out of Charlotte Square director Nick Barley and his team serve up an annual all-you-can-eat banquet of reading diversity, mind-nourishment and creative collaboration. Edinburgh is the equal of any festival of literature, anywhere."

Cressida Cowell, who launched the first book of her new series at the festival said: “I have special affection for this festival because How to Train your Dragon was so directly inspired by my childhood on a tiny, uninhabited island off the west coast of Scotland. Edinburgh audiences are always brilliantly enthusiastic and supportive - I love visiting.”

Barley said: “It’s wonderful to see that our extension into George Street has attracted new audiences, while allowing us to retain all the spirit and vigour of the Book Festival’s beating heart in Charlotte Square Gardens."

He added: “This year’s festival has been a riot of ideas, entertainment and unforgettable conversations involving writers and readers from all corners of the world – from Bonnyrigg to Buenos Aires and from Lewis to Lagos.”  

Nasty Women has sold 2,626 copies for £23,175 through Nielsen BookScan since being published in March. After selling 73 copies the week before the festival, sales jumped 258% to 262 units in the first full week of the festival perhaps down to the boost of the event.

The 2018 Edinburgh International Book Festival will run from 11th August to 27th August next year and the programme will be announced in June. 

For more information, visit edbookfest.co.uk.