Figures collected by The Bookseller show that 2014 was a banner year for children’s fiction in Britain:
Led by hits from David Walliams, Jeff Kinney and Egmont’s Minecraft stable, the UK children’s market hit an all-time high in revenue and market share in 2014, and exceeded sales of Adult Fiction for the first time since accurate records began.
In case you were wondering, as I was, The Bookseller’s idea of “accurate records” began in 1998, when Nielsen Bookscan started analysing UK sales.
The news that the next generation is not only reading, but reading proportionately more than ever before, and reading real books in addition to digital editions has got to be good news… but where there’s good news, there’s usually bad news too. And what do you know? The market for adult fiction is failing.
Adult Fiction […] slumped -5.3% to £321.3m. That is the fifth straight year the print fiction market has declined. Since 2010, the overall print market has declined massively, down 18.9% or £324m. In that time Adult Fiction has dropped by 29% (-£154.9m) while Children’s has increased by 3.2% (+£10.7m).
Overall, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green was the bestselling book of the year in Britain, selling almost 1m copies. Minecraft Handbooks took a phenomenal four of the spots in the rest of an incredibly kid-friendly top ten rounded out by David Walliams’ Awful Auntie, Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, Inferno by Dan Brown, the 2015 edition of The Guinness Book of World Records, and Jeff Kinney’s ninth Wimpy Kid diary.
The bestselling book of speculative interest—excepting Inferno, because bleh—was, wonderfully, Life After Life by Kate Atkinson, which sold approximately 290,000 units to take 11th place in the chart released by The Guardian. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt—last year’s Pulitzer Prize winner—also did very well for itself, taking 14th place after moving most of 240,000 copies.
Also of note: 200,000 units of A Cuckoo’s Calling by J. K. Rowling writing as Robert Galbraith.
Divergent by Veronica Roth was in at number 15, with the series’ first sequel, Insurgent, taking 34th place. That’s 400,000 units between two books. Not bad; not bad at all..
Better, certainly, than George R. R. Martin did in 2014—relative to his ruling of the roost in recent years, at least. Though A Game of Thrones sold through 200,000 copies to take 22nd place, and A Clash of Kings roughly half of that, it looks like A Song of Ice and Fire may be in danger of losing its place in the popular consciousness.
Oh, say it ain’t so!
Niall Alexander is an extra-curricular English teacher who reads and writes about all things weird and wonderful for The Speculative Scotsman, Strange Horizons, and Tor.com. He’s been known to tweet, twoo.