2012 Bestselling Book Data. Visualised

Or, as we in the business like to call it, “A Load of Charts”.

It’s great seeing all the data like this. I could extract meaning from it all day and still not get bored. Bet you wish you were me.

We are now, as promised, going to look at sales volumes, to see what they tell us. And we’ll count both fiction and non-fiction, because it’s more interesting that way. (Says who? Says the Datamaster, That’s Who.)

But first – a  caveat. These are printed book sales. You might argue that without e-book data, this exercise is a waste of time. And look, I hear you. But what can I do? I don’t make the numbers. I just work with what I’ve got. And if you’re given three lumps of coal and a copy of Everything the Data Agnostic Ever Wanted To Know for Christmas, at least you’ve got the ingredients for a small fire. If you’re feeling cold, like.

First of all, let’s look at how many titles sold per author.

Here’s chart 1. All I can say is….. Mmmmmm.

A lot of people on this list broke all the rules... Lest We Forget

50 Shades of the Top 100

EL James is obviously the clear winner, selling over 10.5 million units alone, with her nearest competitor, Suzanne Collins, coming in at just 2.1 million.

However, having said this – and I won’t keep on repeating it for fear of ad-nauseating the whole lot of you – we need to bear in mind that according to Bertelsmann, the owner of Random House, E.L. James’ publisher, over 70 MILLION units of the 50 Shades trilogy were sold between March and December 2012 through paper, audio and e-book format in English, German and Spanish. When you see that, 10.5 million imprints seems like a stodgy and belatedly unwanted starter. In addition, if Suzanne Collins was named the bestselling Kindle author of all time in 2012, looking at paper book sales is hardly going to tell us accurately where readers’ money went last year.

Next? Title. We know who wrote them. But what were they?

Look at the top ten. Size Does Matter

Look at the top ten. Size Does Matter

OK, so, that’s grand, thanks. But tell me, of the books making the bestseller list in 2012, how many of them were published before 2012? Does much success come to those who wait?

But this only made number 683 back when it was published in... sorry? How Much? I'll shut up now

But this only made number 683 back when it was published in… sorry? That cheque is for how much? I’ll shut up now

I don’t know about you, but I expected a bit more from prior years than that, but there you have it. Now, could you tell me, do hardbacks sell at all nowadays?

Hardback fiction still sells? Really?? Oh hi, J.K.!

Hardback fiction still sells? Really?? Oh, hi J.K.!

And finally, Datamaster. What genres are we talking here?

Realists? Us? Seems nothing can trump fiction and fantasy, when all comes to all

Realists? Us? Seems nothing can trump fiction and fantasy, when all comes to all

And that, Ladies and Gentle Sirs, was the Year of 2012. Personally, I can’t wait for 2013, when some bright spark decides to act upon the fact that e-book sales should actually count for something.

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