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Sales figures tell all about the UK's waning love for celebrity memoirs

Sales figures tell all about the UK's waning love for celebrity memoirs

8th May 2015

The Guardian - Jennifer Rankin

Publishers used to have a simple recipe for a bestseller: sign up a celebrity or a TV chef and get the book out for Christmas.

Not any more. The latest industry data suggests that readers’ love affair with the celebrity memoir is cooling.

Sales of autobiographies and biographies, the largest category in non-fiction publishing, fell 7% in 2014, as offerings from John Cleese, Stephen Fry and Kevin Pietersen disappointed industry expectations.

Publishing insiders said no book came close to repeating the success of Alex Ferguson’s memoir in 2013, which became the fastest-selling non-fiction book since records began, shifting 647,000 copies in less than three months…

…The UK’s top 10 bestseller list in print was dominated by children’s writers, including four books based on the block-building game Minecraft. More than 1.8m official Minecraft books have been sold in the UK last year, according to Nielsen BookScan.

Richard Mollet, chief executive of the Publishers Association, said a decline in book sales was never welcome, but argued that the UK industry was faring better than many European neighbours that have seen sales fall by 10% or more. 

He said British publishers were capitalising on the global appeal of the English language, a factor that “helps us to maintain the steady state of the industry”.

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