Over 200m print books sold despite Covid-19 restrictions, research says

Nielsen BookScan bookseller book shops
202 million books were sold in the UK last year
// The volume of print books sold grew by 5.2% in 2020 compared with 2019
// Bookshops in England were closed from March 23 until June 15, then again from November 5 until December 2
// The figure represented the biggest volume rise in the books market since 2007

New research has found that Brits have bought over 200 million print books in the UK last year – the first time since 2012 that number has been exceeded.

Bookshops in England were closed from March 23 until June 15, and then again from November 5 until December 2, with differing lockdowns in place around the rest of the UK.

The volume of print books sold grew by 5.2 per cent in 2020 compared with 2019, according to an estimate from official book sales monitor Nielsen BookScan.


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This equates to 202 million books being sold in the UK last year and was worth £1.76 billion, up 5.5 per cent on 2019.

The Bookseller magazine said the figure represented the biggest volume rise in the books market since 2007, and the highest annual value since 2009.

The year’s bestselling title was Charlie Mackesy’s The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse, with Richard Osman’s crime thriller The Thursday Murder Club coming in second place, and the cookbook Pinch of Nom – Everyday Light in third.

David Walliams and Tony Ross took up three places in the Top 10, with Code Name Bananas, Slime and The World’s Worst Parents. Bernardine Evaristo’s Booker winner, Girl, Woman, Other, Barack Obama’s memoir A Promised Land, and Delia Owens’ novel Where the Crawdads Sing also made the T10, with Guinness World Records in 10th place.

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