According to an estimate from Nielsen BookScan over 200 million print books were sold in the UK during 2021 – an astonishing turnaround by any standards. This is the first time since 2012 that book sales have reached such heights. Sales were in the region of £1.76 billion, an increase of 5.5%.
The best selling title was Charlie Mackesys’ uplifting The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse.
Readers suddenly found themselves with more time on their hands and sought refuge from social media and escapism through books with an insatiable appetite.
Richard Osman’s crime thriller, The Thursday Murder Club came in second place
and as a sign of the times, and more time to spend cooking in the kitchen and with a nod to healthier eating, Pinch of Nom – Everyday Light came in third place.
Code Name Bananas, Slime and the The World’s Worst Parent took up three places in the top 10, followed by Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo. Barak Obama’s A Promised Land, and Delia Owens, Where the Crawdads Sing and Guinness World Records in 10th place.
Bookseller Magazine report that these figures represent the largest rise in book sales since 2007 and the highest annual book sales since 2009. Nielsen emphasize that the figures are estimates based on monthly consumer surveys from around 3,000 book buyers each month.
Many people turned to books for escapism, seeking relief from the pressure of non-stop news cycles around Covid and the fear and anxiety it provoked. Although bookshops had to shut during Covid restrictions, pent up demand resulted in people flocking to book shops to browse and choose new books, often stocking up in case of another shut down. Readers tended to spend a lot of money at once which led to strong book sales for retailers. No single bestseller until November/December 2021 until The Thursday Murder Club’s December sales drove the market upwards. Although sales are up, not all authors have done well. Big names, some newcomers and books of an established series have done well, but others have not. Authors also depend on different avenues for income, such as school visits for children’s literature. Which is tough financially on authors. Whatever the future holds, one thing seems certain, there will always be readers with a hunger for reading books.
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Relax, sink back into comfy cushions and read an enthralling, engaging book and escape for a little while from the demands of the world.