With over 6.3 million units sold, E.L. James’ Fifty Shades of Grey is officially the bestselling book of 2012. Thanks to Nielsen BookScan, publishing insiders are able to put definitive numbers on last year’s book sales and author James’ has a lot to celebrate. Nielsen shows that not only was the erotic series starter the bestselling adult fiction title of the year, but the rest of the trilogy filled the top of the list with Fifty Shades Darker at #2 with 3.8 million units sold, Fifty Shades Freed at #3 with 3.4 million units sold and the Fifty Shades Trilogy Box Set sitting pretty at #4.
It is quite unusual for one author to dominate the yearly bestseller list. We have seen previous authors Stephenie Meyer nab the top spots in 2008 with her Twilight books and J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series take home some hefty numbers, however, it is estimated that no recent author has ever accounted for a larger yearly percentage of sales. (USA Today reports that James' books made up 13.4% of all book sales in 2012.)
Other titles on 2012’s adult fiction bestseller list include the breakout suspense novel Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, the mainstream novel The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling, legal thriller The Racketeer by John Grisham, erotic romance Bared to You by Sylvia Day, and the contemporary romances The Last Boyfriend by Nora Roberts and The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks.
Even with the overwhelming success of James' work combined with the familiar author faces Rowling, Grisham, Roberts and Sparks, last 2012 was not a good year for adult fiction sales. When compared to 2011, we see an 11% drop in unit sales.
The children’s fiction category, which includes Young Adult titles, fared at bit better and only saw only a 2% sales dip from one year to the next. Sales were certainly helped by author Suzanne Collins. Thanks to the huge success of the Hunger Games movie which released in March, the author’s dystopian trilogy nabbed the top three spots on the children’s sales list with The Hunger Games selling 2.8 million units, Catching Fire 2.6 million units and Mockingjay 2.3 million units. With movie tie-ins and special editions, Collins was also #6, 7 and 8 on the list.
The rest of the children’s top selling books went to two authors — Jeff Kinney for releases in his Diary of a Wimpy Kid series and Rick Riordan for his fantasy releases The Mark of Athena and The Serpent’s Shadow.
Just like most genres, mystery sales were down with an 11% drop in sales from 2011 to 2012. This can mostly be attributed to the fact that there were no real breakouts in this genre. Instead the list was full of more usual suspects — two titles from Janet Evanovich, two from James Patterson and two from Stieg Larsson.
2012 was also a tough year for science fiction, which saw sales slow 20% from one year to the next. The books that did do well tended to be older titles including Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card first published in 1985, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams first published in 1979 and Dune by Frank Herbert first published in 1965.
While the sluggish sales in most categories is disheartening, one genre did extremely well — romance. Finally a happily ever after! In 2012, love stories flew off shelves and racked up an unbelievable increase in sales of 35%. With help from the timely popularity of E.L. James, the breakout author Sylvia Day and the continuing excellent works by Nora Roberts, romance clocked in as the most popular genre of the year and we couldn’t be more excited that more readers are enjoying romance as much as we are.
For a complete list of the bestselling books of 2012 in all categories including adult and children’s fiction, nonfiction, biography, business and more, see Publishers Weekly. And for more Publishing Industry News from RT BOOK REVIEWS click here.