Thursday, September 23, 2010

Room leads Booker sales race, but The Slap sells more

22.09.10 - Philip Stone - The Bookseller

Emma Donoghue's Josef Fritzl inspired Room (Picador) is the clear public favourite, in sales terms, of the six books competing for the 2010 Man Booker prize. The book sold 3,451 copies at UK bookshops last week, according to Nielsen BookScan data, almost three times as many copies as the next most popular purchase, Howard Jacobson's The Finkler Question (Bloomsbury, 1,382 copies sold).

However, rejected longlistee Christos Tsiolkas' The Slap (Tuskar Rock) continues to outsell all the shortlistees, as it has done since the longlist was announced on 27th July. The controversial novel sold 4,461 copies last week.

Inclusion on the shortlist has had the biggest effect on sales of Peter Carey's Parrot and Olivier in America (Faber). The book sold just 95 copies in the week before the shortlist was announced but sold 1,088 copies last week—an increase of 1,045%. The next biggest jump has been received by Tom McCarthy's C (Cape), with sales up 523% pre/post shortlist. Despite a sales increase of 412%, Andrea Levy's The Long Song (Headline Review) is the least popular title, in sales terms, on the shortlist.

Total sales of the six shortlistees equalled 8,228 copies last week, according to BookScan data - around half the figure Jilly Cooper's latest novel, Jump! (Bantam Press) sold in just three days. Although the shortlistees' sales are double the sales of the 2008 crop in the same week two years ago, they are down 17% on an incredibly popular 2009 shortlist.

Sales of last year's winner, Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall (Fourth Estate), have just passed the 500,000 mark. Proof of the effect the Man Booker prize can have on sales can be found in the statistic that Wolf Hall's sales are up 440% on total sales of Mantel's previous novel, Beyond Black (Fourth Estate).

Sales last week

Room - 3,451
The Finkler Question - 1,382
Parrot and Olivier in America - 1,088
C - 845
In a Strange Room - 760
The Long Song - 702

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