UK book lovers swap Heathcliff for Holmes

UK book lovers swap Heathcliff for Holmes

Crime Pays: Britain Becomes a Nation of Crime & Thriller Readers

Nielsen BookScan data at The London Book Fair reveals:

  • Crime fiction sales have overtaken General & Literary fiction for the first time
  • 7 million Crime, Thriller & Adventure books sold in 2017, overhauling 18.1 million General & Literary Fiction books

Crime fiction is now the most popular consumer book genre in the UK beating general and literary fiction for the first time, according to Nielsen BookScan’s TCM, it has been revealed at The London Book Fair.

Sales of crime and thriller books increased by 19 per cent since 2015 to 18.7 million units last year. This marked the first time the genre has overtaken sales of general and literary fiction – which accounted for 18.1 million books sold in 2017 – since TCM began in 1998.

The value of crime books sold also increased by 10.6 per cent year-on-year in 2017, up from £106.3million to £117.6million. In value terms, general and literary fiction remained the largest genre at £125.7million in 2017.

David Baldacci, one of the world’s bestselling thriller writers, was awarded a Specsavers Nielsen Bestseller Award at The London Book Fair on Tuesday. He commented:

“When times are stressful and it looks like the bad is winning out over the good, along comes the genre of crime novels to put the balance back in life. People inherently don’t like folks who do bad to get away with it. In real life they do, all the time, because of a variety of factors. But in novels, evil is punished, and the good guys mostly win, after solving the puzzle. And all is right with the world. At least fictionally.”

Jacks Thomas, Director of The London Book Fair said:

“As an avid crime and thriller reader, of course I think it is only to be expected that the genre has reached the No 1 spot! Crime and thrillers not only encompass what you expect from a great read – credible characters, compelling narrative and accomplished writing – they also make you engage with unpicking some often extremely complex and creative plots. With innovative marketing and audience reach via online festivals, fan groups and online communities, crime invention has never been higher. The UK has an embarrassment of riches and our exports are fabulous – from Val McDermid to Paula Hawkins, from Ian Rankin to Stuart McBride we are well-stocked in the talent department.”

Selina Walker, Publisher of Century and Arrow, added: “Crime has always been a wonderfully flexible and resurgent area of fiction and most recently we have seen a surge in popularity of psychological suspense rebooted by a number of brilliant newcomers and brought about, I would argue, by a sort of ‘melding’ of the women’s relationship and detective genres.  Publishers have gotten better at publishing these books with stand-out campaigns but readers know what they like and increasingly look to social media for their recommendations. Lisa Jewell’s brilliantly complex and moving bestseller Then She Was Gone currently has over 700 5-star online reviews – you can’t manufacture this sort enthusiasm.

“Crime for me has always been my go-to genre with the writers I love to read and it has never been in a better place. Whether it’s domestic suspense from the brilliant Harlan Coben or a big international thriller like The President is Missing by Bill Clinton and James Patterson, there truly is something for everyone in this most readable of genres.”

Meanwhile, according to Nielsen’s Books & Consumers survey, self-help gained share in the audio and ebook markets and was the best performer in the adult non-fiction market across print & digital combined.

Self-help genre sessions at The London Book Fair include:

  • Being Mental: is there a right way to publish on mental health – with Jonny Benjamin MBE, Natasha Devon MBE, and Sue Baker, Director at mental health charity, Mind, Club Room National Hall Gallery, Tuesday, 13:00-14:00
  • Memoirs that Matter: Adam Kay This is Going to Hurt, Olympia Room Grand Hall, Wednesday, 14:30-15:30

Nielsen BookScan’s The Total Consumer Market (TCM) data covers over 90% of all retail book purchases in the UK – the remaining being very specialist sites such as gift shops, specialist booksellers and tourist information centres. The TCM represents sales through 6,500 retailers in the UK each week.

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