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Casual Vacancy tops charts; in unrelated news, world keeps turning

If you have yet to reclaim your jaw from its position on the floor after last week’s totally unhyped revelation that JK Rowling had a new book coming out, maybe don’t bother making the effort for now – at least, not until you’ve heard that The Casual Vacancy racked up the highest first week UK sales of any book published since Dan Brown’s 2009 effort The Lost Symbol (whose 550,946 copies sold in its first week I’m sure are all still with their original owners).

As per Nielsen Book Scan data provided on Tuesday – after the novel’s fifth day of release – 124,603 print copies had been sold, so roughly 24,920 copies per day. Figures released since then (and bearing in mind that Nielsen only monitors 75% of print retailers) suggest that the complete first week total is something upwards of 157,000 copies, with more than 215,000 additional copies sold in other formats according to publishers Little, Brown (presumably worldwide, although no one is specifying). Its nearest UK competitors so far this year are Bernard Cornwell’s 1356 (12,231 copies in week one) and Jackie Collins’ The Power Trip (about half of Cornwell’s numbers again, meaning Rowling’s novel notched up roughly 20 times as many sales and flowery descriptions of used condoms as Collins).

Of course, all of this is small potatoes compared to Harry Potter, the latter entries in which series attained positively gaudy first week numbers well into the millions. Then again, these kinds of figures could only ever seem like small potatoes when they come from the UK’s highest selling author since records began, considering just how soundly Rowling outstripped her nearest sales competitors. It’s nowhere close to what E.L. James has managed this year, but considering the novel’s resolutely unsexy ‘hotly contested council election in small English town’ logline, it’s doing pretty alright for itself.

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Chris Ward

Chris Ward

Chris Ward writes and says things about books and music and films and what have you, even when no one is reading or listening.
He was chief hack and music editor of webzine Brazen from 2006 to 2010, and hosted Left of the Dial on Subcity Radio from 2008 to 2011.
He can be heard semi-regularly on the podcast of Scottish cultural blog Scots Whay Hae ('20th best website in Scotland!' - The List), and in 2011 founded Seen Your Video, a film and music podcast and blog based in Glasgow. He has a Masters degree in Scottish Literature from the University of Glasgow that will never have any practical application. You are on a hiding to nothing if you follow him on Twitter expecting any kind of hot publishing scoop.

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