World Book Day boost keeps Mantel off the top
09.03.10 | Philip Jones

World Book Day helped the book trade bounce back last week, with a 10% leap in expenditure over the seven days to 6th March, propelled by a 17% increase in the number of books sold as children cashed in their £1 WBD vouchers.

But it was not necessarily the WBD flip-books that they spent the vouchers on, with the six WBD titles selling less in 2010 than in 2009, a second year of declining sales for the specially-produced works.

The six combined to sell 267,508 copies with Magic Ballerina/Kitten Chaos (HarperCollins/Macmillan) taking the top spot, ahead of Thomas to the Rescue (Egmont). But this total was down more than 20,000 on last year, when the six flip-books sold 288,708 copies: itself down more than 100,000 on the total number of units shifted in 2008 by the nine £1 tie-ins.

The six books took the first six spots of the Official Top 50, with the paperback of Man Booker winner Wolf Hall taking the seventh position in its first week on sale.

It was almost a double triumph for Hilary Mantel’s publisher HarperCollins, with Wolf Hall topping The Bookseller’s mass market fiction chart, the first time a Booker winner has achieved this since records began in 1998. Had it not been for WBD, chaired this year by HarperCollins chief executive and publisher Victoria Barnsley, Mantel would also have topped The Official Top 50, a feat also never achieved by a Booker-winning book.

The full impact of WBD will not be known for another three months, when Nielsen BookScan releases its sector-specific information. Last year, for example, although the WBD titles collectively sold far fewer than they had a year earlier, there was a 16% increase in sales per title when measured over two months, which helped grow the children’s market by 1.1%.

This year, despite the week-on-week growth in book sales, Total Consumer Market revenue totaled £29m, down more than £1m on last year’s figure of £30.2m, which was already down £400,000 on the figure in 2008. But the promotion appears to have helped high street booksellers with sales through the GRM, BookScan’s best measure of the high street, up 12.3% week-on-week, and down less than 4% year-on-year.

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