02.11.11 Philip Stone
Walter Isaacson’s biography of the late Steve Jobs has become one of the fastest-selling hardback non-fiction books since records began.
Brought forward from its original publication date of 24th November following the Apple co-founder’s death on 5th October, Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography (Little, Brown) sold 37,645 copies in its first week on bookshop shelves. Only four hardback biographies/memoirs have sold more in their opening week since Nielsen BookScan records began in 1998.
The biography comfortably tops this week’s Official UK Top 50, ahead of Guinness World Records and James Patterson and Howard Roughan's Don't Blink (Arrow), which sold 21,643 copies and 20,242 copies respectively. More than 50 hardback novels officially hit bookshop shelves last week, with five of them earning a place in this week's Official UK Top 50 on part-week sales alone. John Grisham’s latest thriller, The Litigators, was the pick of the bunch. The book, his first adult novel published by Hodder following his switch from Cornerstone earlier this year, sold 12,962 copies in its first five days on sale last week, and takes eighth place in this week's Official UK Top 50.
Victoria Hislop’s The Thread (Headline Review); Michael Connelly’s 17th Harry Bosch thriller The Drop (Orion); Haruki Murakami’s Orwellian 1Q84: Book Three (Harvill Secker); and Conn Iggulden's Conqueror (HarperCollins) also all début in the Official UK Top 50.
Helped by the popularity of these enticing new releases, sales of hardback novels through BookScan’s top 5,000 bestseller lists were up 6% week-on-week and up 7% on the same week last year. Terry Pratchett's Snuff (Doubleday) was once again the bestselling hardback novel of the week, outselling Martina Cole's The Faithless (Headline) by 19,567 copies to 17,466.
Helped by the autumn half-term break, sales of children’s titles soared 20% week-on-week. David Walliams’ Gangsta Granny (HarperCollins) was the bestselling children’s title of the week, scoring sales of 11,248 copies—up 3,908 on his previous weekly sales personal best of 7,340 set by Billionaire Boy last year.
However, the non-fiction market remains weak in comparison to last year, with sales through the top 5,000 down 20% year-on-year. Just five hardback non-fiction books sold more than 10,000 copies last week, down from 12 in the same week last year.
Lee Evans retains his crown as the author of the bestselling celebrity memoir in the UK, but his The Life of Lee (Michael Joseph) was the only celebrity memoir to sell more than 10,000 copies. Nine, led by Keith Richards’ Life (Weidenfeld) with a sale of 28,200 copies, achieved the feat in the comparative week last year.
Even Jamie Oliver’s new TV series, which began on Channel Four last week, did little to invigorate a weak non-fiction market. Sales of his Jamie’s Great Britain (Michael Joseph) were up just 2% week-on-week, to 10,740 copies sold—well below the 78,606 figure scored by his 30-minute Meals in the same week last year.
In total, £32.5m was spent on printed books at UK booksellers last week, up 2.9% week-on-week but down 9.5% (£3.4m) on the same week last year.