Massive fiction, atomic self-help: international bestsellers in 2022

Following on from our half-year international coverage last July, here we have a full 2022 round-up of the countries covered by Nielsen BookScan, looking at market performance and global bestsellers. Overall, BookScan tracked nearly 650m print books bought in eleven countries in 2022, and only four of those countries (United Kingdom, Italy, India and New Zealand) posted decline compared to 2021. Despite the two largest markets falling short, the overall growth outweighed the decline, with cumulative sales from Australia, Spain, Brazil, Mexico, South Africa and Ireland increasing by 11m books (vs a combined drop of 8m through the UK, Italy, India and New Zealand). Market sizes range from 209m books bought in the UK all the way down to under 7m bought in New Zealand. (Year-on-year comparison is not available for Poland due to expanding coverage, but 2022 sales added up to nearly 33m, placing it on a similar level to India in the below graph.)

Colleen Hoover’s It Ends With Us was the clear favourite in 2022, selling 1.9m copies across eleven countries and ending the year as the top title in the UK, Ireland, Australia and Brazil, along with ranking within the top three in Italy, South Africa and New Zealand. Three more of Hoover’s books appear within the international top ten, contributing to her position as the overall bestselling author in 2022 at nearly 6.5m books sold; the UK accounts for 2.4m of that, followed by Brazil (1.4m) and Australia (1.2m). That gives the UK 37% share, with It Ends With Us matching that, while It Starts With Us increases to 40% bought in the UK, followed by 50% of Verity and 54% of Ugly Love. Switching to other fiction bestsellers, with the full top ten shown below, 39% of purchases of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid came from the UK in 2022, and 53% of Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. Richard Osman’s The Bullet That Missed and The Man Who Died Twice skew the most toward the UK, at 86% and 89% respectively, with his home country sales strong enough to earn those two top ten spots.

On the other end of the scale, Heartstopper Volume One by Alice Oseman achieved one of the most varied international profiles for the year’s bestsellers, benefitting from the Netflix adaptation. Just over a third of sales were made in the UK, but two other countries contributed at least 10% (Brazil and Australia), along with 8% in each Italy, Spain and Mexico. In fact, among the top ten titles, Spain and Mexico take their highest share for Heartstopper, with Mexico overperforming the most: the country’s 8% share of Heartstopper sales is more than double its share of total sales tracked by BookScan in 2022. As for the other countries, Brazil netted its highest share for It Starts With Us and Italy for It Ends With Us, while Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and Poland saw their largest cuts come from Where the Crawdads Sing.

One of the largest shares outside of the UK stems from Atomic Habits by James Clear, India’s overall bestseller. 30% of the 2022 sales came from India, ahead of the UK’s 19%, with the self-help book also overperforming in South Africa, which accounted for 3% of sales, and Mexico, at 7%. This marks the second year that Atomic Habits has made the top ten, jumping up from tenth in 2021, with The Man Who Died Twice (going from fourth to tenth) and Where the Crawdads Sing (shifting up from ninth to fifth) also making repeat appearances. Compared to the last five years, this is the most fiction-centric top ten, with only Atomic Habits diverging; every year from 2017 to 2021 had at least three non-fiction books in the mix. You can see the 2021 international overview and bestsellers here.

Based on data collected from BookScan retailer panels in the UK, Ireland, Spain, Italy, Poland, India, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil and Mexico, to 31 December 2022. For more information, please contact