UK: Nielsen BookData Bestseller Awards Go to 22 Titles

In News by Porter Anderson

The Nielsen Bestseller Awards for 2023 installed four new titles and their authors in the top category’s ‘Hall of Fame.’

At the Nielsen Bestseller Awards 2024 at Ham Yard Hotel London. Image: Bestseller Awards

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

Honoring Print Unit Sales in the UK Market
While some book and/or publishing awards tend to drop out of sight from time to time, few actually vanish permanently. And the one you might recall as the Specsavers Bestseller Awards—so named for a British-based sponsor called the Specsavers Optical Group—is just such a once-and-future contest.

That program, always rooted in Nielsen BookData‘s ability to gather, study, and report data on the British book market, now is being produced in association with Bologna Book Plus. That effort, headed by London’s Jacks Thomas, is the adjunct to Bologna Children’s Book Fair (April 8 to 11). Bologna Book Plus is an operation tasked with creating general-industry publishing content and events for the 61-year-old trade show, which is otherwise focused on young people’s reading.

So the logic of the partnership begins to take shape: Working with Nielsen BookData to present its Bestseller Awards in England can give visibility to the profile of Bologna Book Plus for the broader-industry programming it creates as part of the world’s largest international trade show for the young readers’ book publishing industry. The timing is good because this is when the Bologna book fair annually begins to intensify its promotional work in advance of the April trade show.

Overnight (into January 23) at London’s Ham Yard Hotel, the Bestseller Awards for market performance in 2023 were presented along with some gratifying data that’s Nielsen’s stock in trade: In 2023, Nielsen BookData reports, the UK market sold 199 million units in print books. This is valued at £1.83 billion (US$1.4 billion) and reflecting what the market research and tracking company says was the fact that roughly seven of each 10 books purchases on the home market by UK citizens was in a print format.

Based on UK sales volumes, the awards honor authors whose books surpass large sales thresholds:

  • Silver attention goes to 250,000 unit sales.
  • Gold is for 500,000 units shifted.
  • Platinum recognizes unit sales of 1 million and higher.

Twenty-two titles were awarded Silver, Gold or Platinum status, “and those unit sales have helped contribute to another robust year,” Nielsen reports, “despite concerns about the impact of the cost-of-living crisis on the industry.”

Just to take a pause on that point, in an interesting corollary, The Bookseller‘s Philip Jones has written on Friday (January 19) of how analyses of 2023 on the British market show “rising sales at the value level, falling sales in terms of numbers of copies sold. … “he overall market grew 1.3 percent to £1.8 billion (US$1.7 billion), but at the cost of 10.5 million fewer books sold, with an average selling price of £9.23 (US$11.74), 50 pence ahead of 2022.”

In short, an exploration of higher prices is underway in the market for a product line, books, that has remained far behind other products in seeking to raise prices with inflation.

Back to the awards, four titles reached Platinum status in 2023, getting them berths in a “hall of fame” that now is said to hold 157 such big sellers.

2023 Bestseller Award Winners

At the Nielsen Bestseller Awards 2024 at Ham Yard Hotel London. Image: Bestseller Awards

Platinum Winners

  • It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover
  • Normal People by Sally Rooney
  • The Bullet That Missed by Richard Osman
  • The Highway Rat by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

Gold Winners

  • Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney
  • Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney
  • It Starts with Us by Colleen Hoover
  • Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro
  • The Holiday by T.M. Logan
  • The Keeper of Stories by Sally Page
  • This Much is True by Miriam Margolyes
  • The Paper Palace by Miranda Cowley Heller

Silver Winners

  • Confessions of a Forty-Something F**k Up: The funniest WTF AM I DOING? by Alexandra Potter
  • Dead at First Sight by Peter James
  • Dead if you Don’t by Peter James
  • Dishoom: The first ever cookbook from the much-loved Indian restaurant by Shamil Thakrar
  • Find them Dead by Peter James
  • Left You Dead by Peter James
  • Murdle by G. T. Karber
  • Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan
  • The Familiars by Stacey Halls
  • The Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak

Author Platinum Awards

  • Susan Lewis
  • Victoria Hislop
Commentary at Monday’s Ceremony

Nielsen BookData’s Andre Breedt and Bologna Book Plus’ Jacks Thomas at the 2024 ceremony for the (2023) Bestseller Awards in London. Image: Bestseller Awards

Speaking for Nielsen BookData, its managing director, Andre Breedt, spoke of the pleasure in returning to in-person presentations of this annual tranche of awards.

“My thanks to the BolognaBookPlus team for all their support helping us to reestablish this popular annual event. The Bestseller Awards are unique, recognizing the achievement of any author across all genres by the ultimate measurement, book sales.”

And Thomas, speaking for Bologna Book Plus, said, “So many authors’ careers are enhanced by the work done on their behalf by publishers and authors at book fairs. It’s therefore both a treat and a privilege for BolognaBookPlus, the newest kid on the block in the general publishing book fair world, to see creative and commercial genius rewarded on a night like tonight.

“Nielsen BookData has shone a spotlight on the reading habits of the UK, creating an impressive Hall of Fame on the way.”

More from Publishing Perspectives on publishing and book awards is here, more on Nielsen is here, more on Bologna Book Plus is here, more on Bologna Children’s Book Fair is here, and more on the United Kingdom’s book publishing market is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.