The biggest books of 2013 across print and digital

What was the biggest selling book in 2013, across all editions, including digital? My former colleague Philip Stone reported the following in The Bookseller last week.

Since August, The Bookseller has published the only official ranking of the UK's bestselling e-books, complete with monthly unit sales figures supplied directly to us by a panel of publishers. Last week we published the first annual print and e-book combined chart, based on publishers' e-book data and print book sales information supplied by Nielsen BookScan.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s memoir, My Autobiography (Hodder & Stoughton), was the bestselling printed book in the UK last year. But the bestseller across all editions? Step forward Gillian Flynn. Gone Girl (Orion) was the UK's true "book of the year", selling more than one million units across all editions. It was both the third-bestselling printed book in the UK last year and, according to publishers’ e-book sales data, the third-bestselling e-book. Combined, however, it was the UK’s overall number one in 2013. Aided by excursions into e-book retailers’ deep-discount promotions, the thriller sold more than 400,000 units in "e" last year, with 40% of its total sales of 1.038 million coming from digital editions.

Only two e-books sold more units: Yann Martel’s Life of Pi (Canongate, 453,000) and Jonas Jonasson’s The Hundred-Year-Old Man . . . (Hesperus, 463,000). Both owe a large portion of their huge sales to membership of Sony’s controversial 20p promotion, price-matched by Amazon.co.uk, which ended in March last year.

In total, the top 50 titles in the chart sold a combined 18.2 million units across all editions, with 30% of those sales coming from e-books. Digital market share ranged from a low of 0%—in the case of Jamie Oliver’s Save with Jamie (Michael Joseph) and Minecraft Official Annual 2014 (Egmont), neither of which were available in e-book editions—to a high of 99%. Daniela Sacerdoti’s Watch Over Me (Black & White) sold just 3,500 copies in print last year, but sold almost 100 times that amount (333,000 units) in digital formats, having spent the entire year selling for less than £1. Its current price on Amazon: 30p (96% off its print r.r.p.).

A cheap selling price is clearly an irresistible factor for e-reader owners—19 books in the Top 50 enjoyed six-figure e-book sales last year, with a dozen of those selling for under £1 on Amazon.co.uk at some point in 2013.

Of the books in the chart, 13 saw less than 10% of their total sales for the year come from digital editions—all of which were non-fiction or children’s titles.

Bestselling Books of 2013 - Top 10

Pos Title Author Publisher P Vol E Vol
1 Gone Girl Gillian Flynn Orion  627,097  411,163
2 Inferno Dan Brown Transworld 640,676  328,960       
3 My Autobiography Alex Ferguson Hodder & Stoughton 803,084  44,292           
4 The Hundred-Year-Old Man... Jonas Jonasson Hesperus 223,966 462,608       
5 The Fast Diet Mosley & Spencer Short Books 497,200 174,129        
6 Life of Pi Yann Martel Canongate 164,675 452,536               
7 The Casual Vacancy J K Rowling Little, Brown 321,940  193,636           
8 Entwined with You Sylvia Day Penguin 255,713 252,464           
9 The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry Rachel Joyce Transworld 324,545 180,804               
10 Guinness World Records 2014 Guinness World Records 437,207 59,787               

E-book sales data provided by publishers; print sales data from Nielsen BookScan; charts and analysis compiled by Philip Stone. For the full top 50 download the latest digital edition of The Bookseller.

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