2014 Bestseller Book Data To Sink Your Teeth Into

Anyone for a mouth-watering chart or a graphic gourmand’s idea of gluttony? You are? Excellent. Let’s aim to answer some of life’s great questions, then.

Who were the winners and losers in the bestseller world in 2014? Who ate all the pie (charts)? And who walked away with all your pocket money?

Time to look back at 2014 book sales, and see which genres, authors and titles loitered in the Top 10 Bestseller Lists without a care in the world, idly scratching themselves as the money poured in, even as their contents were debated and picked apart.

This data comes from Nielsen Bookscan, published in the UK Sunday Times every week. (As always, this comes with a boring warning label: the following is derived from Sunday Times Top Ten bestseller lists only, and therefore excludes oodles and oodles of interesting data such as most e-book sales; anything outside the Top 10; the PIN code on my bank card; and the meaning of life.

But this data is nonetheless the best available source for trend analysis, so we have to live with it. And as we all know, I live for the trends, and not the specifics. How else am I supposed to generalise and stereotype for the purposes of this blog, let alone lampoon all you hold dear?)

A second word of warning: the charts are HUGE. But I made them that way just so that my fellow nerds could click through and peruse properly, if their fancies be tickled. You don’t have to click through if you don’t want to.

First, let’s look at how the Top 80 Bestsellers in the UK in 2014 were split between the 4 main genre categories (Fiction, Children’s, General Non-Fiction and Manual), and by print type:

2014 Bestseller Book Data To Sink Your Teeth Into

I love the smell of pictorial numbers in the morning

So, who won?

1. Children’s books

Children’s fiction came way out on top last year, and that’s not even counting the Young Adult The Fault In Our Stars, which blasted the fiction list into smithereens and laughed in the face of cookery books. The reason Children’s Hardback sales were so high, incidentally, was down to 4 hardback Minecraft online gaming handbooks which managed to make it into the overall Top 10 (let alone the Children’s Top 10).

2. Film Adaptations Are Ridiculously Lucrative

The Fault In Our Stars and Gone Girl were both published before 2014, but both saw blockbuster film adaptations released last year, which propelled them both back to the top of the bestseller lists, whereupon they stayed for ages, eating all the food and using up all the hot water in the tank without paying any rent. Disgusting, really.

3. TV/Online Tie-Ins Also Bring Home Much Bacon

The Minecraft online gaming handbooks were a surprise hit in 2014, but the popularity of TV chef cookery books is no surprise to anyone at all. Unless, perhaps, you are a koala or a panda, living solely on one species of low-energy vegetation, and at a loss to understand why anyone would combine sugar, fat and cereals, let alone subject the resultant gooey mess to prolonged heat and serve with hot beverages.

And So To The Busy, Cluttered Charts Which Probably Contain Too Much Information (Unavoidable So Please Don’t Judge Me)

The full list of titles is below. I didn’t want to put it too high in the post in case you were blinded by all the tiny letters and the length of the list, and ran away screaming. Here they are, listed in order of brobdingnagian sales numbers. All hail John Green, etc.

2014 Bestseller Book Data To Sink Your Teeth Into

Don’t be scared. This is only for the curious among you, who need to know the titles of everything. You know, the sort of person who stops you in the middle of your inordinately clever story to say “what was her name again? Was she related on the mother’s side?”

Just in case the sheer size of that traumatised you, here’s all the data again in plain-old-furniture format:

2014 Bestseller Book Data To Sink Your Teeth Into

And finally for today – I don’t want to blow your minds or anything – here’s one more overview of last year’s spoils: the Top 80 titles again, but this time, charted according to which of the 4 main genre categories they slot into:

2014 Bestseller Book Data To Sink Your Teeth Into

Does it make you feel like writing a children’s book all of a sudden? How cynical of you!

To tell you the truth, I’m so exhausted from doing my happy dance and the mere sight of this data poured into a graph or 3, that I have to go and lie down now. I’ll have more for you at a later date, when I’ve got over this bout of too much of a good thing. In the meantime, if you feel like making any comments or observations about something which is either puzzling or delighting you, please share. Go on. Do.


  36 comments for “2014 Bestseller Book Data To Sink Your Teeth Into

  1. February 8, 2015 at 4:12 pm

    No wonder you are exhausted, so am I. It is so much to take in and think about and in the end all I want to do is write. You must have gone to a lot of trouble to research this and post it. Thanks for sharing. Going to have a lie down, and suggest you have one too 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • February 8, 2015 at 5:55 pm

      It’s my cross to bear, Jane. My indefatigable love of spreadsheets, combined with the stupendous ability to do something unnecessary whilst steadfastly ignoring the necessary, is a distinguishing trait (if not distinguished) 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • February 8, 2015 at 6:04 pm

        LOL that is funny. I am a great one for distraction therapy. Anything other than get on and write the story I am supposed to be writing. Have fun but do come up for air now and again 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Ali Isaac
    February 8, 2015 at 4:13 pm

    Those babies are blowing my mind! And confounding my poor myopic eyes! But I take it my genre did quite well…

    Liked by 1 person

    • February 8, 2015 at 5:58 pm

      It did indeed, Ali. And more to the point, if you can straddle the age divide – by, say, combining a subject adults might be interested in (history/myth – you clever thing!) but writing it in a style which is targeted at younger people (hello J.K., John Green, Stephenie Meyer and Suzanne Collins), you are, as they say in the west of Ireland, sucking diesel. And no, that does not mean a rude thing 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  3. February 8, 2015 at 4:32 pm

    Excellent data compilation. You do have a facility for the colorful chart.

    Given the “blow ’em outta the water” win of The Fault Of Our Stars, it’s clear, as it was MANY years ago when that eye-rolling mess, Love Story, as well as Zeffirell’s teen-love-heartbreaker, Romeo and Juliet, thundered to box-office/book-reading stardom, that the unequivocally BEST way to take top seed is to suck up to YA audiences who LOVE the confluence of true love and cold death. Love and Death. Add in repeated/endless death (i.e., vampires, zombies, etc.), and you’re gold. Or, love followed by insanity/murder followed by inexplicable love again (i.e., Gone Girl) is also a variation on the theme. But Death and Love, any dose, any mix, seems to be the winner.

    Hmmmm… so maybe a series about teen girls who work as interns at Make-A-Wish Foundations and cyclically fall for cute dying boys? Naw…. too on-the-nose. Okay… how about Candy Stripers who work in the… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • February 8, 2015 at 6:03 pm

      You’re (dead) right, Lorraine! I think Gone Girl is an outlier, because it was a thriller featuring wholly unlikeable characters, not like anything I’d ever read before, though I couldn’t get enough of them. But if we go back to the historical first recorded stories, it’s all about love and death in the end, isn’t it? I don’t think it’s as easy to succeed with the theme as the big winners make it look, but all the same, I wouldn’t mind a bite of the pie.

      I reckon you’re on to something with the Candy Stripers. There’s something so sinister about that idea which should make fiction GOLD.


      • February 10, 2015 at 11:04 am

        Yessss…. Not sure if Candy Stripers who kill OR Candy Stripers who fall in love with dying boys would work best, but we’ll give it a whirl. 🙂


        • February 10, 2015 at 11:21 am

          Oh, Candy Stripers who kill, definitely (and there’s the title of the accompanying TV show).

          The ones who fall in love are no good to anyone, and you know there’s a pseudo-revolution going on right now pretending to support strong female characters. We need to uphold it, however shallow.


  4. February 9, 2015 at 10:58 am

    god bless your patience!
    Yikes so there’s no hope at all unless we write books for kids, cookery books or something amazing enough to be made into a film!


    • February 9, 2015 at 12:24 pm

      I’m not sure it needs to be amazing at all, Lorna, to be made into a film or TV show, but we can take that as either uplifting or depressing, depending on the way you look at it 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  5. February 9, 2015 at 11:05 am

    Impressive charts. The film-tie ins are very significant. Looked at the Fiction Top 10s in the Sunday Times this week and most of them were from films.


    • February 9, 2015 at 12:25 pm

      I think a lot of people forget that movies sell books, not the other way around. It’s not just about the film rights – it’s about how many more people hear about your book once it hits the screen.


  6. February 9, 2015 at 11:31 am

    I’m disgusted by how much of a sheep I am-so any of these are on my kindle, on my bookshelf or gone back to the library … What sort of a self pubber promoter am I? Bah! Btw just googled Guy Martin as he’s one of the only auto bios there. He’s a motorcycle dude, so I’m thinking: becomes stunt woman (sorry stunt person) and write an autobio. Now I’m a chick litter, so I could possibly lighten it up a little-less crashes and more ‘You want me to do WHAT?’ while becoming embroiled in a love triangle(not a threesome, mind, though with the fifty shades phenomenon that could have worked if I wasn’t such a prude…)and shopping a lot. Hmm,might not sell so much, I see Helen Fielding is one of the only chick litters to grace the chart-possibly women in trench coats are sneaking it out of libraries guiltily the way porn used to be snuck out pre E.L?


    • February 9, 2015 at 12:30 pm

      2014 was not a good year for chick-lit, that’s true. Thrillers seem to be where it’s at these days. Doesn’t seem to matter whether the main character is male or female. Having said that, the Irish lists are very different. We still love our homegrown authors and contemporary fiction targeted at women is still top of the heap.


  7. February 9, 2015 at 9:45 pm

    That’s it, I’m writing crappy film adaptations from now on. Really, I’d be rolling in it.
    What I’d like to know is who’s reading these film adaptations, because I know not one soul. Reason? Saw the movie.


    • February 10, 2015 at 10:33 am

      😀 This is what happens in the age of the TurboFan. More fanatic than a person really into something standing in front of a large electronic air circulation device waving a pleated semicircle of paper.

      You saw the movie? I read the book. 10 times, my friend. And 1 million words of accompanying fan fiction.

      Liked by 1 person

      • February 10, 2015 at 1:11 pm

        Mmmmmm…. Crappy made for the big screen tween fiction trilogies. I could so do that. Three books of colorless drivel that some talented and creative director in Hollywood will make into a blockbuster? I’m on it. What shall I call it? The Vampire Games? The Hungry Divergent?

        Liked by 1 person

        • February 10, 2015 at 1:45 pm

          Well, I already patented The Fault In Our Twilight Games, so you can’t have that.


          • February 10, 2015 at 1:48 pm

            Dammit, that’s a good one.


            • February 10, 2015 at 1:52 pm

              I know. Hence you not having it. Sorrys.


              • February 10, 2015 at 1:57 pm

                You can stick your sorrys in a sack, Missus, (Do you say that in Ireland?) cause I’m writing Moonlight Twiblood.


                • February 10, 2015 at 2:06 pm

                  You can have that one. Sounds a bit overtly pubescent to me I’m afraid. I like my metaphors delivered with a little less shovel.

                  PS although we don’t stick sorrys in a sack in Ireland, we do stick them somewhere else the sun doesn’t shine.

                  Liked by 1 person

                  • February 10, 2015 at 2:22 pm

                    If not Pubescent, then who is your target audience? Moonlight Twiblood will make all your charts next year, I’m positive. Every girl aged 11-16 will read my crappy novels and love me. I’ll be the hero of a generation. A generation that won’t realize how crappy my novels are until too late. MUA… MUAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

                    Liked by 1 person

                    • February 10, 2015 at 2:35 pm

                      Oooh, I don’t know. I think a thinly-disguised exploration of puberty can still be packaged in a decent story. It’s not the puberty I have a problem with (I had some myself once). I just like my puberty to be a bit more original, because we’re all, like, soooooo special, y’know wot I mean Mary Sue?

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • February 11, 2015 at 2:47 am

                      You’re right. Overly pubescent. Instead I’m writing 50 shades of Hunger. It doubles as a diet plan. I score on all counts.


                    • February 11, 2015 at 10:28 am

                      I am now in awe. I like that idea so much I’d like to graph it, but I don’t know how. Genius.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • February 11, 2015 at 1:53 pm

                      Cherry pie graph.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • February 11, 2015 at 1:57 pm

                      Oh, it’s so much meatier than that. Steak and kidney, perhaps.


                    • February 11, 2015 at 1:58 pm


                      Liked by 1 person

  8. February 9, 2015 at 10:30 pm

    This gave me much pleasure, I love my info coloured and shaped. I found two books I’d forgotten I meant to read. However, I am now suffering from a weird hallucination about the non-fiction readers, who seem to divide into hippos and minnows hoping to turn into minnows and hippos respectively.


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