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2017 in review

2017’s regional bestsellers – from Nielsen BookScan

We often report on the overall UK bestsellers through BookScan, which in 2017 so far are showing a good mix of fiction, non-fiction and children’s, featuring both long-established names and successful debuts:

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2017 in review

A day in the life of a Publisher Account Manager at Nielsen Book Research

Nielsen Children's UK SummitJaclyn 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. 8:41 (okay okay more often 9am): I get the train from Surbiton to Woking, appreciating that I’m going the opposite direction of most commuters as I easily find a seat. Occasionally I’ll be going the other direction into London, if I have a meeting or training session at any publishers’ offices – typically at least once a week I’ll be out of the office in some capacity. 9:30 Settle in, COFFEE, boot up my email, see what has come in since I left yesterday. Chances are there’s at least one password reset. I have around twenty publishers on my BookScan client list, and then three colleagues with similar lists, so with that many users, resets are needed often! And I choose to view this as a sign that lots and lots of people are using BookScan, which is always good news! 10:00 It’s Tuesday, which means charts day. BookScan will be loading the latest week’s sales this afternoon, so our Production team spends the morning making sure everything is on track and there are no anticipated problems. 10:15 Right now I’m finishing up our monthly newsletter that goes to clients, in which I sum up how book sales in the UK and Ireland are doing this year so far (good news, they’re up!). I usually try to pick an extra topic to write more in-depth about, and this month I’ve decided on Christmas books – specifically, books with ‘Christmas’ in the title, and how many of them are in the BookScan charts over the past month. (And then I remind myself it’s only mid-November and Christmas is still over a month away.) I’m also using our Books & Consumers data to look at books specifically bought as Christmas gifts, to see how buying behaviour differs. 11:30 Receive an email about a password reset. Done! 11:45 I look through some contract renewals that I have coming up in the next couple of months, and start to put together proposals to send to those clients that outline what’s covered in their subscriptions. 12:45ish Time for lunch – I usually just eat at my desk, or maybe pop into town if I need to pick anything up. More often than not I’m watching YouTube videos or reading Buzzfeed/other various articles… 2:00 BookScan goes offline to upload the latest data, and we’re warned not to log in lest we disrupt the process and ruin the afternoon for everyone. 2:30 We send out weekly UK and Irish charts, and some extra reports to various clients.  Inevitably we’ll discuss amongst ourselves what does or doesn’t surprise us about the week’s bestsellers (the new David Walliams sold HOW MANY COPIES this week?!). 3:00 BookScan comes back up – time for another password reset! Fixed with the click of a mouse. 3:15 A query comes through from a publisher on the best way to run a specific chart, as the results she got were different than expected. I walk her through running the chart and try to pinpoint what might have gone wrong. 3:45 I’m doing a webinar soon on how to access and use market share data in BookScan, so I take some time to run through what I’m going to cover, and come up with potential questions that attendees might ask. It’s a bit nerve-wracking – I’m used to training rooms of people but speaking into a computer and being recorded adds a different aspect! 4:30 A couple more emails have come in, one password reset and a query about running BookScan data. I answer those and go through and make sure I haven’t missed anything throughout the day. A lot of my day-to-day is very reactive to what my clients may need or ask for; I never really know what may come up, which keeps things interesting!
2017 in review

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.
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Free Nielsen key findings report: The UK Children’s & YA Book Consumer

Since 2012, Nielsen Book UK has undertaken a Children’s Deep-Dive Study each summer to investigate children’s book reading and buying habits in the context of other leisure and entertainment pursuits. For the first time in 2015, in addition to the nationally representative sample of 1,500 parents of 0-13 year olds and 500 young adults aged 14-17, the survey included 1,000 book buyers aged 18-25 to help investigate the phenomenon of adults buying ‘YA’ books for themselves. The research was undertaken in July 2015. The 2015 research measured a drop in book reading on a weekly basis both among those aged 3-7 and 14-17 – though since 2012, the biggest decrease overall has been among 3-10 year olds. Books, however, still rank as the most popular activity for 0-10 year olds – but are in fifth position for 11-13s and drop out of the top 8 activities for those aged 14+. For the first time Nielsen segmented the 0-25 book market into groups. ‘Superfans’ – the very heaviest readers – tend to be female, with an average age of 12. ‘Distractable’ and the ‘Anti’ groups are more likely to be males, with the ‘Anti’ group being older (14 on average) and the ‘Distractables’ younger (11 on average), whilst the ‘Potential’ group is as likely to be boys as girls. This latter group are the ones reading e-books and magazines, and they too like adaptations; with the right content, format and messaging, this is a market that publishers can grow. Download a free extract of the report here. Or you can purchase the full report via Nielsen here.
2017 in review

All the facts and stats from the UK Children’s Summit

For the first time this year, Nielsen Book held a UK Children’s Summit at London Book Fair, covering the incredible growth we’ve seen in Children’s sales worldwide over the past two years, and will hopefully continue to see. As someone who spends a lot of time thinking and talking about book sales data, I couldn’t pick a better subject to present on right now than the children’s market. Since my first foray to the LBF in 2013, the children’s market has taken a turn for the better – after steadily declining from 2009 to 2013, revenue grew 9.5% in 2014, even as adult fiction and non-fiction continued to decline. Sales in 2015 improved even further, up 5.3% to £309m, marking last year as the highest year for Children’s since BookScan records began. And it wasn’t just one category, or one author, or one publisher. The three largest categories (Children’s Fiction, Picture Books and Novelty & Activity Books) all saw growth, as did the majority of top publishers. Even more impressive, 2016 sales to the end of March are already up 7.4% compared to the first three months of 2015, pointing toward 2016 being another excellent year. The strength of Children’s Fiction in particular continues to amaze me – value sales grew 11.3% in 2015, and so far in 2016 the category has gone up another 10% in quarter one, topping £20m. Last year, 14 of the top 20 authors were in growth, with the top 20 taking about half of fiction sales. It’s a combination of new and old driving this – David Walliams’ latest Grandpa’s Great Escape was the highest selling children’s title for the last five years, but then we also see J.K. Rowling moving back up the ranks. The new illustrated Harry Potter contributed to her moving from the eighth largest children’s fiction author in 2014 to the third in 2015, and in the first few months of 2016, she’s moved into first. Contrary to the other large categories, Young Adult Fiction saw a bit of a decline in 2015 (down 5.3%), but there were still some positives – half of the top twenty authors showed increased sales, including Zoe Sugg in first and Terry Pratchett in second. Actually, the top ten YA titles made more money in 2015 than in 2014 (£7.9m vs £7.0m), with 25% of revenue coming from those top ten, led by Girl Online 2: On Tour. We also saw value growth beyond the top 100 titles, and more debut authors earning over £100k than in the previous year, pointing to plenty of future potential in the YA sector. It’s not just the UK that’s seeing extensive growth in Children’s – of the ten countries we measure through BookScan, only Australia was in decline in 2015, after a really strong 2014. Interestingly, when you look at the breakdown of the market in each country, Australia has the largest share taken by Children’s, at 44% of volume sales, closely followed by New Zealand at 42%. In the UK, Children’s takes about 34% of volume sales and 24% of value, which has grown from only 15% back in 2001, and only 21% as recently as 2012, all pointing to the continuing strength of print in the Children’s market. 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.

The Girl on the Train shatters sales records

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.

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skills for publishing

End of the book is nowhere near – New Year sees increase in sales

This is a guest post from Tom Chalmers, Managing Director at IPR License. Amazon is taking over the world, booksellers are going under, ebooks are leading to the demise of the physical book. This has long been the subtext of the modern publishing world but is this still the case? Maybe not.

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