Monthly Archives: January 2011

Close of play in the book market for 2010

For 2010 Nielsen BookScan, which tracks nearly all retail book sales, has reported consumer sales in the UK market of £1.72bn and 229.3m books. This is an average selling price (not cover price) of £7.51 per copy. The figures show a decline from the previous year of 2.7 per cent (by volume) and 1.7 per cent (by value). The average selling price rose by 7p.

In the top ten titles are books by Jamie Oliver, Stieg Larsson (all three of the Millennium Trilogy), Dan Brown, Stephanie Meyer, and David Nicholls (One Day). The top ten titles sold 10.5m copies, with Jamie Oliver’s 30-Minute Meals selling a staggering 1.2m copies at an average selling price of £13.59 – worth £16m. It has been hailed as the fastest selling non-fiction book of all time.

Robert McCrum in the Observer commented: ‘If you persist in the belief that ours is a sophisticated book-buying society, look at the top sellers for 2010. The figures are just in and, for anyone hoping for evidence of some uplift in popular taste, they provide a sobering reality check.’

The top five publishing groups in 2010 were Hachette, Random House, Penguin, HarperCollins, and Pan Macmillan.

Last year’s figures are based on a 53-week year for BookScan, in order to catch up with the calendar year. Without the 53rd week there would have been a larger drop in sales: down 4.3 per cent (by volume) and 3.2 per cent (by value).


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iPad news

Interesting news comes from the consumer magazine industry, which has been investing in new products for tablet computers such as the iPad. Wired, published by Condé Nast, launched an iPad edition in May – the app sold 73,000 copies in the first nine days – but by November sales had fallen to 23,000. Men’s Health, published by Rodale, is selling around 2,000 copies a month. These figures come from the Audit Bureau of Circulation in the USA.

Book publishers know the marketing potential of apps and some bestselling authors will expect such editions to be available (there are, for example, iPhone apps for cookery stars such as Jamie Oliver and Nigella Lawson), but will the sales justify the large investments required? It is of course too early to say, but it is interesting to watch the experiments in other media industries alongside what is being tried in books. Another anxiety for publishers is that some authors, as they have done with ebooks, will decide to bypass publishers and sell direct.