Book Sales Increased in The Lockdown as The UK Rediscovered the Love for Reading

UK consumer book sales climbed 7% to £2.1bn last year as people “rediscovered their love of reading” in lockdown, the industry body says.

Demand for fiction and non-fiction jumped, while audio-book sales were up 37%, the Publishers Association said.

Bestsellers included The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman, Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo, and seven Ways by Jamie Oliver.

But educational book sales slumped as schools were shut for months.

Stephen Lotinga, chief executive of the Publishers’ Association, said: “It’s clear that a lot of people rediscovered their love of reading last year which publishers were ready to deliver the entertaining and thought-provoking books that numerous folks needed.

“But we shouldn’t ignore the very fact that it has been a very challenging year for education publishers and lots of smaller publishers.

“It’s also been a hugely difficult time for several booksellers and authors whose livelihoods are enormously disrupted.”

According to the association, total UK publishing sales – including consumer, educational and academic titles – rose 2% in 2020 to £6.4bn.

The consumer market performed particularly well, with sales of fiction up 16% and non-fiction by 4%. Print accounted for £1.7bn of these sales (up 4%) while for digital it had been £418m, up 24%.

Other bestselling titles included The Mirror and therefore the Light by Hilary Mantel and Barack Obama’s memoir A Promised Land, published in November, which sold well in audio.

The UK’s enormous academic publishing industry also remained in fine condition, with total income up 3% at £3.3bn. But sales of faculty textbooks and word books fell by a fifth.

Mr. Lotinga said: “With bookshops now ready to reopen, and physical events returning, we are optimistic that folks will soon be ready to enjoy books together again.

“We got to harness this return to reading and repose on the large opportunity this presents to everyone.”

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