Top 50 drops but range pushes market into growth

Top 50 drops but range pushes market into growth

The last year has been a challenging one, as the book trade did not benefit from many massive bestsellers or genre-busting trends. Yet, what do you know, 2017 ended in growth, though by the barest of margins. The £1.592bn of print books sold through Nielsen BookScan’s Total Consumer Market in 2017 beat 2016’s haul by just £1.4m, or 0.09%. This was a consequence of rising average selling prices (up 23p to £8.39) rather than selling more books: volume sales dropped 2.7%, to 189.8 million units.

The miniscule value rise was certainly not driven by the very top of the bestseller lists. Three books in 2016 shifted over a million units, while only Jamie Oliver’s 5 Ingredients and David Walliams and Tony Ross’ Bad Dad crossed the half a million-copies mark in 2017. Last year’s top 50 (see below) collectively earned £83.7m, 19.8% down from the £104m churned out by 2016’s top 50 books.

Some big-brand authors’ titles did not quite match previous outings. By normal measures, Dan Brown’s Origin was a triumph: the number three-bestseller of the year, it notched up a six-figure unit sale in its début week and outsold 2017’s next-bestselling adult fiction hardback (Lee Child’s The Midnight Line) by £2.3m. Yet Origin’s £4.4m in its 12 weeks on sale was some 20% down on the near £5.4m the writer’s Inferno earned during a similar timeframe in 2013. Similarly, E L James’ Darker shifted 205,000 units in the month since its publiction, while 2015’s Grey sold 887,000 copies in its first four weeks.

If there is an emblematic book of 2017, it may be Tim Marshall’s Prisoners of Geography. Championed by booksellers, it was a breakout in 2016, earning £1.2m through the TCM. Last year matched 2016, but in solid, unspectacular fashion. The 35th-bestselling book of 2017, Prisoners of Geography only hit the Official UK Top 50 twice, but it was always hovering around the top 200, shifting between 2,500 and 3,000 copies week in, week out.

Of course, 2017 has not been bereft of hits. Writer Walliams and illustrator Ross’ Bad Dad is the first of nine titles the duo has in 2017’s top 50; no one (or pair) has ever had more than six books chart in a year-end top 50 since records began. And, as we have noted over the course of the autumn, Oliver was back on song. 5 Ingredients might have missed out on cracking the £10m mark by a whisker, but it was easily 2017’s volume and value leader.

Though there were no huge new trends, several feminist-themed titles stormed the charts in 2017’s #MeToo climate. Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo’s Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls was a Christmas hit, and has spawned a raft of imitators. Naomi Alderman’s The Power became just the third Women’s Prize for Fiction winner to hit the Official UK Top 50 in the year of its win since accurate records began—Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche’s Half of a Yellow Sun and Zadie Smith’s On Beauty accomplished the feat in 2007 and 2006, respectively. Meanwhile, five editions of Margaret Atwood’s TV-boosted A Handmaid’s Tale combined to sell almost 270,000 copies for £1.8m, with the Channel 4 tie-in and 1996 Vintage Contemporary Classics editions both surpassing 100,000 units.

The Official UK Top 50: 52 weeks (2017)

 

  Wks Title Author Imprint ISBN (978+) Value Volume
1 17 5 Ingredients Jamie Oliver Michael Joseph 0718187729 £9,910,163 826,304
2 8 Bad Dad David Walliams & Tony Ross HC Children's 0008164652 £3,903,476 651,264
3 12 Origin Dan Brown Bantam 0593078754 £4,357,979 418,632
4 32 The Couple Next Door Shari Lapena Corgi 0552173148 £2,082,647 418,380
5 29 The World's Worst Children 2 David Walliams HarperCollins 0008259624 £3,178,148 408,131
6 19 Guinness World Records 2018 GWR Guinness World Records 1910561713 £3,523,491 376,979
7 26 Night School Lee Child Bantam 0857502704 £1,620,277 353,762
8 42 Sapiens Yuval Noah Harari Vintage 0099590088 £2,207,569 327,025
9 7 The Getaway Jeff Kinney Penguin 0141376677 £1,947,440 324,454
10 10 La Belle Sauvage Philip Pullman Penguin/David Fickling 0385604413 £3,801,033 305,705
11 6 Blob David Walliams & Tony Ross HC Children's 0008221539 £238,271 239,498
12 27 Grandpa's Great Escape David Walliams & Tony Ross HC Children's 0008183424 £1,011,642 238,407
13 21 I See You Clare Mackintosh Sphere 0751554144 £1,214,854 231,770
14 15 Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls Elena Favilli & Francesca Cavallo Particular Books 0141986005 £2,806,379 228,339
15 16 The Whistler John Grisham Hodder Paperback 1444791099 £1,080,039 223,131
16 19 My Not So Perfect Life Sophie Kinsella Black Swan 1784160425 £979,437 210,658
17 19 Lean in 15 Joe Wicks Bluebird 1509800667 £1,737,010 210,340
18 16 Gangsta Granny David Walliams & Tony Ross HC Children's 0007371464 £873,659 205,852
19 4 Darker E L James Arrow 1787460560 £854,156 205,121
20 7 The Midnight Line Lee Child Bantam 0593078181 £2,075,670 202,838
21 20 Small Great Things Jodi Picoult Hodder 1444788037 £965,622 200,172
22 27 Homo Deus Yuval Noah Harari Vintage 1784703936 £1,276,827 198,151
23 13 Cartes Postales from Greece Victoria Hislop Headline 1472223210 £929,928 191,584
24 6 Awful Auntie David Walliams & Tony Ross HC Children's 0007453627 £788,138 189,072
25 14 The World's Worst Children David Walliams & Tony Ross HC Children's 0008197032 £1,536,038 180,890
26 14 Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone J. K. Rowling Bloomsbury 1408855652 £887,959 178,580
27 12 Only Fools and Stories David Jason Century 1780897950 £1,833,482 178,115
28 8 Blue Planet II James Honeyborne & Mark Brownlow BBC Books 1849909679 £2,329,890 176,140
29 17 The Trouble with Goats and Sheep Joanna Cannon The Borough Press 0008132170 £892,210 175,939
30 17 The Essex Serpent Sarah Perry Profile 1781255452 £1,121,392 174,972
31 9 Cooking for Family and Friends Joe Wicks Bluebird 1509820252 £1,707,975 172,534
32 15 Mary Berry Everyday Mary Berry BBC 1785941689 £2,304,940 172,386
33 6 Demon Dentist David Walliams & Tony Ross HC Children's 0007453580 £721,539 167,887
34 6 The Official Highway Code - TSO 0115533426 £392,431 165,522
35 2 Prisoners of Geography Tim Marshall Elliott & Thompson 1783962433 £1,234,543 165,062
36 11 Into the Water Paula Hawkins Doubleday 0857524423 £1,690,243 164,553
37 16 Conclave Robert Harris Arrow 1784751838 £849,948 160,642
38 14 The Midnight Gang David Walliams & Tony Ross HC Children's 0008164614 £1,081,836 158,820
39 16 The Muse Jessie Burton Picador 1447250975 £940,951 157,651
40 7 Lean in 15 - The Sustain Plan Joe Wicks Bluebird 1509820221 £1,317,167 155,182
41 12 Three Sisters, Three Queens Philippa Gregory Simon & Schuster 1471133039 £732,730 154,595
42 10 At My Table Nigella Lawson Chatto & Windus 1784741631 £2,020,339 153,486
43 17 The Girl on the Train Paula Hawkins Black Swan 0552779777 £816,517 151,159
44 10 The Clever Guts Diet Michael Moseley & Tanya Borowski Short Books 1780723044 £759,176 149,620
45 12 Tom Kerridge's Dopamine Diet Tom Kerridge Absolute Press 1472935410 £1,430,925 148,351
46 13 The Power Naomi Alderman Penguin 0670919963 £999,195 147,427
47 10 Harry Potter and the Cursed Child - Parts One and Two J K Rowling et al Sphere 0751565362 £710,858 145,139
48 1 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets J K Rowling Bloomsbury 1408855669 £691,182 143,661
49 13 The Dry Jane Harper Abacus 0349142111 £775,921 141,911
50 8 The Detective Dog Julia Donaldson & Sara Oglivie Macmillan Children's 1509801602 £589,661 141,520