Patterson Tops UK’s Most Borrowed Library Books of 2013-2014

In News by Dennis Abrams

The Guardian breaks down the numbers from this year’s report on the most borrowed library books in the UK, a list topped by titles from James Patterson.

By Dennis Abrams

James Patterson tops the list of the UK's most borrowed book by library users.

James Patterson tops the list of the UK’s most borrowed book by library users.

At The Guardian, John Dugdale broke down the numbers in this year’s report from the UK’s Public Lending Right, which lists the borrowed library books in the UK — useful information since authors receive 6.66p per loan, up to a cap of £6,600. (Public Lending Right, or PLR, was established by an Act of Parliament in 1979. It gives authors the legal right to receive payment from the government each time their books are loaned through the public library system.)

Dugdale writes:

“For those susceptible to moral panic, the list of 2013-14’s most borrowed books can’t fail to suggest once again an alarming public craving for murder and mayhem. But that’s not the only way of looking at it: the dominance of thrillers and detective fiction could instead be ascribed to a healthy need (always liable to be greater in times of recession, terrorist violence or mass paranoia) for narratives in which broken communities are repaired thanks to a sleuth’s intelligence, or threats to terrified ones are eliminated after a long ordeal because of a hero’s courage and combat skills.”

As a point of interest, he points out that library users in the UK clearly prefer those “broken communities” to be not in Britain — while the number one book on the chart, Dan Brown’s Inferno takes place in Italy, and James Patteron’s Private Down Under “unfolds in Australia,” Mark Billingham’s The Dying Hours (at #10) is the “only UK-based novel in the top 20.” Even British author Lee Child sets his Jack Reacher thrillers in the United States.”

And perhaps curiously, he writes,

“Of the top 100 places, 99 are occupied by fiction, with [Jamie] Oliver’s tips on cheap meals the sole exception – so, as in previous years, the library chart offers a marked contrast in this respect to the sales charts, in which memoirs, cookbooks, annuals and manuals added up to around a third of the total. Why the bias towards fiction is so pronounced remains unexplained, but producers and lovers of non-fiction may at least find some patriotic solace for their gloom in PLR’s list of the most borrowed factual titles. It shows that while we may be addicted to lurid US thrillers, we prefer our cookery coaches (with Save with Jamie the genre’s most-borrowed book, Mary Berry the most-borrowed author) and autobiographers (Alex Ferguson, James Bowen) to be British and down to earth.”

On the Public Lending Right website, author Julia Donaldson commented:

“I’m thrilled that my books are being widely borrowed from libraries, which are some of my favourite places. I developed my own love of books in my local library and would quite possibly not otherwise have become a writer myself. When I was the Children’s Laureate and went on a six-week library tour I was impressed with how libraries continue to inspire today’s children, from thepopular Rhyme-Time sessions for toddlers through to the homework clubs for schoolchildren. With the closure of so many bookshops the libraries have an added importance, and it’s important that they remain open and at the heart of our communities. It is wonderful to receive my PLR statement each year and I am pleased that PLR has now been extended to audio-books. This comes after many years of authors and their organisations seeking for the inclusion of audio-books in PLR. So, this extension comes as a very welcome development.”

Top 10 Most Borrowed Authors, 2013/2014:
(2012/13 position in brackets)

  1. James Patterson (1)
  2. Daisy Meadows (2)
  3. Julia Donaldson (3)
  4. Francesca Simon (4)
  5. M C Beaton (7)
  6. Adam Blade (8)
  7. Jacqueline Wilson (5)
  8. Nora Roberts (6)
  9. Lee Child (12)
  10. Roald Dahl (14)
About the Author

Dennis Abrams

Dennis Abrams is a contributing editor for Publishing Perspectives, responsible for news, children's publishing and media. He's also a restaurant critic, literary blogger, and the author of "The Play's The Thing," a complete YA guide to the plays of William Shakespeare published by Pentian, as well as more than 30 YA biographies and histories for Chelsea House publishers.