For 2009 Nielsen BookScan, which tracks nearly all retail book sales, reported consumer sales in the UK market of £1.751bn and 235.7m books. This is an average selling price (not cover price) of £7.43 per copy. The figures show a small fall from the previous year of 0.5 per cent (by volume) and 1.2 per cent (by value). This represents a broadly flat market and the decline does not come anything near the precipitous fall in sales of some other industries, for example car manufacturing. The average selling price fell by 6p and is at its lowest since 2001.
Around 3 per cent of the total sales by volume belong to two authors, Stephenie Meyer and Dan Brown. Between them they sold 7 million books and their books make up five out of the top 10 bestselling titles. The other titles were by Marian Keyes, Stieg Larsson, Kate Atkinson, and Jodi Picoult, alongside the Guinness World Records 2010.
You can hear an LBF podcast about book sales last year – Jonathan Nowell from Nielsen Book being interviewed – here. He says that sales were lower partly as a result of fewer people going abroad on holiday, and therefore not buying so many holiday reads. He also predicts fewer celebrity biographies in the future; and more experimentation coming from smaller, independent publishers. In international comparisons, the UK sells more books per head of population (4 per capita) than other countries covered by Nielsen – e.g. 3 in Australia and 2.5 in the USA.
In Inside Book Publishing we write about trade or consumer publishing …