Where we read what: UK regions and their reading habits
While most popular books tend to have their sales spread throughout the country, I always find it interesting to look at how sales differ when moving from region to region in the UK – in BookScan we can separate sales into East of England, Lancashire, London, Midlands, Northern Ireland, Scotland, South West, Southern, Wales & the West and Yorkshire. This year, Joe Wicks’ Lean in 15 is comfortably sitting at number one in every region, followed by the paperback of Paula Hawkins’ The Girl on the Train everywhere but the South West – Eden Project: The Guide has managed to outsell the thriller in that pocket of the UK in 2016 so far.
Looking at a selection of bestsellers for each region, only four titles appear in every top ten: Lean in 15, The Girl on the Train, The World’s Worst Children by David Walliams and Make Me by Lee Child. Here’s some more regional differences that stand out:
- Three titles make it into the top ten for Northern Ireland but no other region: the film tie-in version of Me Before You by Jojo Moyes, Awful Auntie by David Walliams and Old School by Jeff Kinney. From another angle, The 8-Week Blood Sugar Diet ranks in the top ten books everywhere BUT Northern Ireland.
- Ella Woodward’s second book Deliciously Ella Every Day is number six in London but beyond position ten everywhere else. On the other hand, London is the only region where Mary Berry: Foolproof Cooking does not appear in the top ten.
- Scotland has shown more of a liking for John Grisham than other bestsellers this year – Rogue Lawyer is number ten when combining sales from Central Scotland, Northern Scotland and Border but further down in all other regions.
- Colouring book sales have continued into 2016, even if they are a bit more subdued than last year’s phenomenon – but that hasn’t kept the Harry Potter Colouring Book from grabbing a place in Lancashire’s top ten chart.
- As the year progresses, World Book Day titles usually relinquish their bestseller positions, but Roald Dahl’s The Great Mouse Plot still takes a spot in the North East’s top ten, and Star Wars: Adventures in Wild Space: The Escape by Cavan Scott appears in both the North East and Yorkshire.
- Another Yorkshire variance is the presence of Sylvia Day – One with You is number nine there but not within the top ten anywhere else.
- East of England, Wales & the West and the Midlands all have the same titles in their top ten lists, corresponding to the top titles in the overall UK, but no region has those titles in the same order.
And that’s just for the first half of 2016 – I had a brief look at all-time bestsellers, and while Fifty Shades of Grey is the best-selling book in the overall UK and most individual regions since BookScan began, The Da Vinci Code takes the crown in London, Scotland and Southern.
So where should you live based on your bookshelves?
Jaclyn Swope is a Publisher Account Manager on the Book Research team at Nielsen BookScan, where she assists a variety of publishers with understanding and utilising both retail sales and consumer data, through training sessions, presentations and bespoke analysis of book industry trends.