A bestseller tour around the UK

Both ‘The Thursday Murder Club’ by Richard Osman and ‘Megamonster’ by David Walliams sold over 200k copies in the UK from June to August, with Osman about 26k copies ahead of Walliams. But on a regional level, ‘Megamonster’ edges ahead in the Midlands, the East of England, the South West and Northern Ireland, while the narrowest gap between the two titles can be found in the Southern region, where 84 more copies of ‘The Thursday Murder Club’ were bought compared to ‘Megamonster’ in those months. The two bestsellers have a fairly similar regional profile for their sales, as shown in the graph below, although Scotland accounts for a larger segment of Osman’s sales while the East overperforms for Walliam’s latest.

We see more significant divergences throughout the rest of the top ten, with a couple of those pointing to local connections, which will definitely be an underlying theme of this post: ‘Shuggie Bain’ by Douglas Stuart understandably overperforms in Scotland, while Lancashire accounts for a larger than usual cut of ‘You Are a Champion’ by Marcus Rashford & Carl Anka. London still contributes the highest share for both of those titles and for most of the bestsellers, most distinctly for ‘Hamnet’ by Maggie O’Farrell, but more copies of ‘Freed’ by E.L. James have been bought in the Midlands than in the capital.

Only the top three books – ‘The Thursday Murder Club’, ‘Megamonster’ and ‘The Midnight Library’ – appear in every region’s top ten, so let’s embark on a grand tour around the UK to explore the differences in the summer’s popular books:

  • First, ‘Us Three’ by Ruth Jones has us bouncing all over the country: the novel just misses out on the overall top ten but does appear among the bestsellers in the South West, Wales & the West (where it’s fourth), the Midlands, the North East and Northern Ireland.
  • We’ll circle back to the South West, where ‘The Wild Silence’ by Raynor Winn ranks third, with sales here nearly on par with London for the last few months. Also set in Cornwall, ‘The Lamplighters’ by Emma Stonex cracks the top ten, thanks to more than half of its sales coming from the region, followed by ‘Dark Tides’ by Philippa Gregory.
  • Moving over to the Southern region, ‘The Appeal’ by Janice Hallett just makes it into the top ten, a few hundred copies ahead of ‘I Follow You’, the latest from Brighton-based Peter James.
  • We’ll hop on a train up to London, where we can find ‘The Vanishing Half’ by Brit Bennett, ‘Where the Crawdads Sing’ by Delia Owens and ‘Small Pleasures’ by Clare Chambers all within the capital’s bestsellers.
  • We’d find plenty of museum and guidebooks mainly selling in London, but to see one within the top ten, we’ll head over to the East of England, where the ‘IWM Duxford Guidebook’ ranks tenth for the region for the last three months.
  • Let’s take a break from all this travelling with some cake: ‘Jane’s Patisserie’ by Jane Dunn also makes the top ten in the East, as well as in Yorkshire, Scotland and Northern Ireland (although the cookbook’s highest sales stem from the Midlands).
  • Some historical drama to go with our cake, as Yorkshire, Scotland and Northern Ireland, along with the North East, also have ‘Fortune’s Daughter’ by Dilly Court in common.
  • We’ll stick around in Yorkshire for some inspiration via Rob Burrow’s ‘Too Many Reasons to Live’; 40% of the memoir’s sales come from here, boosting it to tenth for the region with not even two full weeks of sales.
  • Another similarity for the Scotland and Northern Ireland charts, this time bringing Lancashire along, ‘A Time for Mercy’ by John Grisham breaks into each of their top ten charts, compared to 12th for the total UK.
  • We can’t go to Scotland without picking up a book by a Scottish author, namely ‘A Song for the Dark Times’ by Ian Rankin, sitting at fifth in the chart.
  • And then we’ll jump over to Northern Ireland to end on an Irish author, with ‘Grown Ups’ by Marian Keyes still holding onto a bestseller spot over the summer, after being released in February this year.

Data is extracted from the BookScan Total Consumer Market for weeks 22 to 34, covering 30 May to 28 August 2021. For more information, please contact contact