A bestseller tour around the UK

We’ve passed halfway point for 2024 (already!) and the UK print book market held up well in the first six months of the year, with spending on books down just 1% despite a steeper 3% drop in number of books bought. This year’s top earner to date is Bored of Lunch Healthy Slow Cooker: Even Easier by Nathan Anthony, approaching £1.7m, although the cookbook ranks third by volume, surpassed by the paperbacks of The Last Devil to Die by Richard Osman and The Secret by Lee & Andrew Child.

From book to film and back to book

Every year I write our UK Book Market in Review, and one of the sections is a month-by-month timeline that highlights the big books and authors of the year along with literary prizes and external factors that have a hand in driving the market. One of those external factors is film and TV adaptations, and there are SO MANY nowadays.

The lifetime of BookScan, international edition

The UK is the oldest of the BookScan territories, with data back to 1998, and over the years, we’ve expanded our coverage to 11 other countries, most recently Colombia, launched in 2023. The individual market charts always show an interesting mix of global hits and more local bestsellers, and extending that to the lifetime charts for each country paints a fascinating picture of the favourites in the BookScan era.

Green metadata in the book supply chain

In 2023, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a UN body, produced a report that highlighted the urgency of the climate crisis. It expressed that more than a century of burning fossil fuels has led to an increase in global temperatures of 1.1°C above pre-industrial levels. Among devastating outcomes such as an increase in the severity and frequency of extreme weather events, the rise in temperature has impacted biodiversity, and has meant that around half the global population now contend with severe water scarcity for at least one month in the year, jeopardizing lives, energy, and food security.

Looking back at 2023 in Australia and New Zealand

The print book market in Australia decreased in value and volume against 2022 in low single digits (-2% for both), however it’s important to note that 2022 was the highest value and volume year in BookScan Australia’s 20 years of data. If we compare 2023 to just one year earlier, it’s above 2021 by +5% in volume and +6% in value. Zooming back further to a pre-pandemic 2019, 2023 is +16% ahead in value and +15% in volume. When we compare this to our neighbours in New Zealand, they experienced a slightly bigger drop in their volume (-7%) and value (-5%) bringing their market back to levels seen pre-pandemic 2019.

Crime (and thrills) pay in the UK book market

More than half a billion crime, thriller & adventure books were bought across formats in the ten years from 2013 to 2022 in the UK, equating to approximately 100 purchases a minute, with £2.5bn spent by consumers in those years, according to results from our Books & Consumers survey.

Looking back over the lifetime of BookScan

While it’s hard to imagine a time when the book industry didn’t have BookScan, it was actually 30 years ago, 1993, that BookScan development in the UK began. We’ve come a long way since then, expanding our coverage of the UK market and adding eleven more countries (and counting) to our roster…

Seasonality and celebrations in different book markets

The pattern of the UK print book market throughout the year can be fairly reliable: the peak occurs in the lead up to Christmas, with 8-9m books bought in the final shopping weeks, nearly three times more than lowest weeks of the year. Beyond the UK, it’s interesting to see how those patterns differ in the other countries covered by BookScan.

Celebrating independent bookshops in the UK

Happy Independent Bookshop Week! Indie bookshops are an important part of the UK high street and the book market, and here we’ll highlight the role they play in boosting books beyond the market bestsellers as well as showing some insight into the consumers who support these shops.

The buyers behind the book sales

Consumers in their 30s are consistently the largest segment of book buyers in the UK each year, with 30-34s buying 12% of books in 2022 according to Nielsen BookData’s Books & Consumers survey, ahead of 11% bought by those aged 35-39.

Snapshot of print & digital books in the UK in 2022

While our previous 2022 roundup posts have covered print books, first for the UK and Ireland and then looking further afield, here we have a summary of both print and digital formats in the UK, from our ongoing Books & Consumers monthly survey. In total, 348m books were bought for the year, adding up to £2.5bn, with both measures down around 4% compared to 2021.

Making sense of 2022

After both the UK and Irish print book markets hit their highest value sales on record in 2021, Ireland managed to surpass that in 2022, with value sales growing another 2%, to €170m. This was largely driven by growth in fiction…Fiction similarly grew in the UK, but that didn’t make up for the drop in other sectors, with the total UK print market falling 1%, to £1.8bn.

Giving the gift of books

Over the last five years, one in ten print books bought in the UK have been intended as Christmas gifts, according to Nielsen BookData’s Books & Consumers survey. Of course, several genres will exceed that stat – some books might as well be released with Christmas bow already attached, as associated with the season as they are.

A tale of three formats

In the first seven months of 2022, the sector that experienced the biggest percent decrease in the UK book market was non-fiction e-books. On the other hand, where can we find the biggest percent increase? Non-fiction audiobooks. Thanks to that combination of decline and growth, the digital sides of non-fiction are on their way to meeting in the middle: the gap between the two fell below 1.5m purchases, compared to more than 3.5m at the same point in 2021.

Trick or treat or books

The pre-school bestsellers for recent weeks show a clash of the festive seasons, much like any retail outlet at this time of year, with Halloween books rising to the top of the chart but Christmas books nipping at their heels.

Keep Your Eyes on the Prize

Book prizes have been receiving lots of scrutiny recently, with high profile prizes such as the Costa Book Awards losing sponsorship and having to cease or postpone their activities. However, data from Nielsen BookData’s BookScan sales measurement and Books & Consumers survey show that prizes remain as important as ever in terms of driving sales, and helping consumers find and choose books.

Soaring Temperatures & Soaring Sales: paperback fiction & summer reading

Paperback novels are currently enjoying their summertime sales boost, fuelled by readers shopping for their latest beach read. More than 160 paperback novels sold more than 1,000 copies in the UK in the week ending 30th July 2022, and 17 of those occupy spots in the overall top 20. Outside of Christmas, the biggest weeks in volume terms for paperback fiction tend to occur around […]

It Ends with Atomic Habits of Evelyn Hugo: international book markets in 2022

In the first half of 2022, BookScan has tracked over 270m in print book sales through ten countries, led by the UK with 91m books sold and ranging all the way down to just under 3m in New Zealand. For all countries combined, the broad sector split comes to a satisfyingly orderly 99m, 88m and 77m respectively for non-fiction, children’s & educational and fiction, although non-fiction isn’t the biggest segment for every country.

Happy Independent Bookshop Week!

My favourite way to celebrate Independent Bookshop Week, aside from buying lots of books, is of course looking at lots of data. Let’s see what BookScan and Books & Consumers can tell us about indie bookshops and their vital role on the UK high street.

The bookselling power of TikTok

The world of BookTok continues to be a driving force in 2022, with books that proclaim ‘TikTok made me buy it!’ or use TikTok/BookTok in the keywords collectively selling 2.2m copies in the first four months of 2022 in the UK, as measured through BookScan.

Books abroad: The international reach of bestsellers

One fascinating thing that I do with BookScan data every year is to put together the international bestsellers, across all print editions and translations in the markets that we cover (UK, Ireland, Italy, Spain, India, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil and Mexico). The result is often surprising […]