Sales of World Book Night titles 'double'

Sales of World Book Night titles 'double'

Sales of the selected 25 World Book Night titles soared by over 100% at W H Smith, amid a wider trade sales boost, following television coverage, events and book giveaways to mark its inaugural year.

On 5th March, 20,000 people gave away one million books in a bid to boost adult reading and raise the profile of the industry across the UK. Those who applied to be book-givers chose one of 25 selected titles, which included works such as One Day by David Nicholls and Northern Lights by Philip Pullman, and received 48 copies to hand out to strangers or friends.

According to Bookseller estimates, based on analysis of current and previous sales data of the 25 books, the event provided 70,000 extra sales so far in 2011, or £425,000 in value terms. Nielsen BookScan data reveals average sales of the 25 titles have almost doubled (81%) to 30,900 copies over the past two weeks and their sales have jumped by 121% over four weeks.

Overall, 24 of the 25 titles have enjoyed a sales boost over the past four weeks, with Nigel Slater’s Toast the only one that has seen its sales fall, most likely due to a huge boost in sales in Dec/Jan following its BBC TV adaptation. The statistics also revealed average sales of the 25 titles are 185% higher than they were last year. In comparison, overall Total Consumer Market (TCM) book sales have increased by 6% over the past two weeks and 7% over the past four weeks, in volume terms, while sales last week were down 6% year on year.

W H Smith said week-on-week sales of the 25 titles increased “considerably”, with One Day leading the sales for the high street retailer. Rachel Russell, business unit director for books for W H Smith, said the BBC TV coverage on Saturday night helped boost sales: “Anything that generates several hours of TV for books is a good thing, and we will wait to see how fruitful it is in the forthcoming weeks.”

Waterstone’s also reported a sales boost. “The significant uplift in sales of the retail editions of the World Book Night books was encouraging, and we were bowled over by the enthusiasm of the 5,500 givers that collected their books from us,” a spokesperson said.

The positive impact of the occasion was also hailed by publishers, with Little, Brown c.e.o. Ursula Mackenzie saying the event marked a fusion of sectors across the industry. “At a briefing session at the House of Commons on Wednesday, the members of the all-party parliamentary committee on publishing actually commented on the amount of coverage we had generated that week for books, a real achievement,” she said. Many industry leaders have called for the event to be repeated next year.

However, Canongate m.d. and WBN organiser Jamie Byng appealed for more investment. “Last weekend was the exhilarating first culmination of this initiative, as well as only its beginning. It needs investment to evolve if it is to be built into something even more successful in future years, but the opportunities are many and it is important that we do not squander them.”

Thousands of literature fans gathered in Trafalgar Square, London, on 4th March for a party with stage readings by Margaret Atwood, Alan Bennett and John le Carré. On World Book Night, there were hundreds of World Book Night events held across the country.