UK: Specsavers Awards, Based on Sales, Honor Paula Hawkins, Philip Pullman, More

In News by Porter Anderson

Roughly 60 books were fêted overnight (January 25) at the Specsavers Bestseller Awards event, with Nielsen Book determining which titles sold 250,000, 500,000, and 1 million units in 2017.

At the Specsavers Bestseller Awards ceremony in London on January 25. Image: Tweeted by @NielsenBook

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

Margaret Atwood, Andy Weir, Lee Child, More

We last heard from the UK’s Specsavers Bestseller Awards program in September when author Victoria Hislop was given four recognitions, three Gold and one Platinum.

And while there have been several such awards given to one or two authors at a time during the past year, on Thursday evening at London’s May Fair Hotel (January 25), a squadron of such heavyweight writers were recognized in three categories: nonfiction, fiction, and children’s books.

The Specsaver commendations are meant to be a parallel to the music industry’s recognitions of major sales, as in a “platinum-selling album.” The awards use print sales data from Nielsen BookScan, and ebook sales data from Nielsen PubTrack Digital, to designate and verify sales-based eligibility.

Authors including Tim Marshall, Louise Doughty, Ben Elton, Jessie Burton—as well as Hislop—have accepted awards, and the criteria are also in three categories of sales milestones: 250,000 copies draws a Silver award; 500,000 a Gold award; and 1 million copies earns a Platinum award. All sales action must have occurred in 2017 and the tracking agency working in partnership with the awards is Nielsen Book.

Among the biggest Specsavers Bestseller Awards winners:

  • Paula Hawkins was honored with triple Platinum status for The Girl on the Train and Silver for Into the Water
  • Cecelia Ahern was recognized with a Platinum award for her auspicious debut PS, I Love You

Overall, however, the class of 2017 Platinum winners is dominated by authors of children’s books, with the top recognition going to authors including

  • Jeff Kinney for his “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” books Rodrick Rules and Dog Days
  • David Walliams for Grandpa’s Great Escape
  • Roald Dahl’s Matilda and The Twits

In category breakdowns, fiction led the awards with 36 books qualifying for Silver, Gold, or Platinum recognition.

In a prepared statement released after the ceremony, Nielsen Book co-managing director Andre Breedt is quoted, saying, “2017 was another strong year for the industry, with sales keeping pace with the highs we saw in 2016. It was a year [in which] adult fiction continued its resurgence alongside the growing success of the domestic children’s book market and it’s great to see so many of those authors here tonight.”

And speaking for the British optical retail chain Specsavers, its co-founder, Dame Mary Perkins, is quoted, saying, “It is hugely inspirational to see so many accomplished authors together under one roof, and to be able to champion their achievements. Each and every one of this year’s winners is truly deserving of their accolade. Reading is something that Specsavers is very passionate about, as of course good eyesight plays an essential role in it.”

Below are complete lists of honorees in the three categories.

Novelist Peter James is the recipient of a 2017 Honorary Specsavers Bestseller Award for his sales of more than 5 million units. Image: Specsaves

2017 Specsavers Bestseller Awards in Nonfiction

Platinum
My Autobiography by Sir Alex Ferguson
The Hairy Dieters by Simon King & Dave Myers

Gold
5 Ingredients by Jamie Oliver
Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari

Silver
The Churchill Factor by Boris Johnson
Prisoners of Geography by Tim Marshall
Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari

Novelist Paula Hawkins is the big winner at the 2017 Specsavers Bestseller Awards on January 25, recognized for triple Platinum sales for ‘The Girl on the Train’ and Silver for ‘Into the Water.’ Image: Specsavers

2017 Specsavers Bestseller Awards in Fiction

Platinum
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins (triple Platinum)
PS, I Love You by Cecelia Ahern
Killing Floor by Lee Child

Gold
Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh
The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena
The Martian by Andy Weir
Dead Famous by Ben Elton
Origin by Dan Brown
The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Silver
Night School by Lee Child
Into the Water by Paula Hawkins
Three Sisters, Three Queens by Philippa Gregory
My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella
The Lie by C.L. Taylor
The Accident by C.L.Taylor
I See You by Clare Mackintosh
Darker by E.L. James
The Muse by Jessie Burton
You And Me, Always by Jill Mansell
The One You Really Want by Jill Mansell
Rumour Has It by Jill Mansell
Don’t Want To Miss A Thing by Jill Mansell
The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon
Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult
The Whistler by John Grisham
Payback by Kimberley Chambers
Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty
The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O’Farrell
Instructions for a Heatwave by Maggie O’Farrell
After You’d Gone by Maggie O’Farrell
The Hand That First Held Me by Maggie O’Farrell
Conclave by Robert Harris
The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan
The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry
Cartes Postales from Greece by Victoria Hislop

Tom Fletcher, left, and Dougie Poynter of McFly are authors of the pooping dinosaur books, which won two Silver Specsavers Awards in the children’s books category for 2017. Their illustrator on ‘The Dinosaur That Pooped a Planet!’ is Garry Parsons. And the illustrator on Fletcher’s ‘The Christmasaurus’ is Shane Devries. Image: Specsavers

2017 Specsavers Bestseller Awards in Children’s Books

Platinum
Grandpa’s Great Escape by David Walliams
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules by Jeff Kinney
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days by Jeff Kinney
Matilda by Roald Dahl & Quentin Blake
The Twits by Roald Dahl & Quentin Blake

Gold
Bad Dad by David Walliams & Tony Ross
Tales From Acorn Wood: Fox’s Socks by Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler
The Troll by Julia Donaldson & David Roberts
What the Ladybird Heard by Julia Donaldson & Lydia Monks

Silver
The World’s Worst Children 2 by David Walliams & Tony Ross
Top of the Class (Nearly) (Tom Gates) by Liz Pichon
A Tiny Bit Lucky (Tom Gates) by Liz Pichon
Yes! No (Maybe…) (Tom Gates) by Liz Pichon
La Belle Sauvage: The Book of Dust Volume One by Philip Pullman
The Dinosaur That Pooped A Planet! by Tom Fletcher & Dougie Poynter
The Christmasaurus by Tom Fletcher


You’ll find all of Publishing Perspectives’ coverage of the Specsavers Bestseller Awards with Nielsen Book here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He is also co-owner and editor with Jane Friedman of The Hot Sheet, the newsletter for trade and indie authors. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook, at London's The Bookseller. Anderson has also worked with CNN International, CNN.com, CNN USA, the Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and other media.