Monday 3 January 2011

Top-selling 100 Books of All-time… well, at least since 1998… in UK… excluding the Bible and a few others

I was tempted not to gloss on the article appeared in yesterday's Guardian Datablog:

but then, having had a look at the list and read the comments below, I changed my mind.

I think the list is actually quite interesting, for all its limitations. It certainly provides a snapshot of the post-Net Book Agreement landscape of British Publishing: the top ten titles are by only three authors; books have been massively discounted, especially hardbacks; there's an abundance of non-fiction (especially cookery books) and genre titles; the 100 titles have been published by a dozen or so publishers; only four or five publishers (Canongate, Profile, Quercus and Bloomsbury – possibly GWR) are not part of some huge media conglomerate.

So, is this also a picture of our future? Is UK publishing hell-bound? It looks more and more likely, especially with the increasing importance of eBooks and the weakening of traditional high-street book outlets – which will mean fewer and fewer big-budget books selling more, with debut authors and mid-list writers suffering the most.

We've seen this happen in the music industry already, and what did we get? Declining sales, less and less diversity, fewer opportunities for people with talent. What else did we get? Simon Cowell, Alexandra Burke, Susan Boyle and Olly Murs.

Can we stop this for books, please?

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