Paula Hawkins’ novel The Girl on the Train has broken UK sales records this week, claiming its 20th consecutive week atop the hardback fiction bestseller lists. It overtakes Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol, which stayed at number one for 19 weeks following its release in September 2009, to become the longest reigning bestseller since Nielsen BookScan began monitoring sales in 2001. Not only has it stayed at the top of the hardback chart for longer than any other title, it is second only to Brown’s The Da Vinci Code – which stayed at number one in the paperback chart for a jaw-dropping 65 weeks – in most weeks held at the top of any book chart.
Since its release in January, the novel has sold over 800,00 copies in the UK alone, according to publisher Transworld, with 7,280 of those being sold in the last week – almost double the sales figures attained by its nearest rival, Karin Slaughter’s Pretty Girls, in its first week on sale.
These statistics are all the more remarkable considering that The Girl on the Train is Hawkins’ first work of fiction, and did not (previously) carry the cachet of a known quality like Brown’s Robert Langdon books (with The Lost Symbol‘s success perhaps explainable by its being the author’s first novel published since the breakthrough success of The Da Vinci Code six years earlier).
Hailing its word of mouth triumph, Waterstones buyer Joseph Knobbs tells The Guardian: ‘What’s been astounding about its continued success is that it’s entirely natural. No squad of jet fighters sky-writing its name in the air; just an old-fashioned story of a talented author, impassioned publisher and enthusiastic booksellers.’
Hawkins’ editor, Sarah Adams, adds: ‘It is a concept that has chimed with countless readers worldwide, and propelled the exceptional word-of-mouth sales. To see The Girl On The Train breaking records and achieving quite this level of success is true testament to the exceptional talent of Paula Hawkins and the intoxicating novel she has written.’