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