Anne Enright, the Booker and booksales

Eoin Purcell


Well Done Anne
Here is an interesting one. Despite the negative vibes that have been put out about the Booker not driving sales and how the Booker chooses bad books, Anne Enright sold 5,481 copies in Ireland in the week to October 20th according to Bookscan* (including 4 days after she won the prize!).

You can see from the figures below two very interesting things. Firstly the bounce was huge (744% or thereabouts if my maths work out) but also, even before she won the prize, her numbers were very good. In fact she sold some 7,000 copies in the weeks to October 13th. Even if she sells not a single book more, she will be one of Ireland’s top selling authors.

Oh there is a kick off into really good territory around about the time of the Long List announcement, but even by then she had cleared the bones of 2000, a not inconsiderable feat.

Anne Enright, the Booker and booksales

So not only is The Booker good for sales in Ireland (driving them from 2000-12000 is impressive) but the notion that the book itself was obscure and unknown is a little forced I think!

Isn’t that interesting?

* There are some bigger numbers thrown about in the Irish Independent this week too that are worth looking at, especially this line which makes me smile:

The book is certain to top bestseller lists this week as Eason’s reported sales of 12,000 copies from its store, with the vast majority sold since the prize was announced.

This is in contrast to sales of just 7,340 copies here [my emphasis, how little does this journalist know about Irish book sales if he can write that line] before the Irish author’s win.

3 thoughts on “Anne Enright, the Booker and booksales

  1. Hi Eoin,

    While I agree that any author selling 7000+ copies in Ireland is doing very well, I think it is stretching it a bit to say that this makes her one of Ireland’s best selling authors. The likes of Paul Howard, Marian Keyes, Rachel Allen, David McWilliams can sell in the region of 20,000+ and most true crime authors sell at least 5000-7000.

    I am not trying to take away from Anne’s success and I agree that the journalist in the Indo obviously knows nothing about book sales, but I think describing 7000 sales as ‘top-selling’ ignores the fact that there are several Irish authors who can sell many multiples of that figure, albeit not in the same genre as Anne Enright.

  2. Sarah,

    I’ll accept that I may have overplayed my hand a little. I was speaking in the knowledge of just how tough it is for a literary work to make an impact in the current market.

    I’ll happily accept that there are authors that will outsell her handsomely (JK Rowling sold about 150,000 copies of HP7 between adult and children’s editions). I wouldn’t dream of disparaging any of the other best selling author, and yes true crime will probably outsell literary fiction in a straight fight.

    All in all, even when she had only sold 2,000 copies, Anne had done well in a tough market for literary fiction. Had she not won and tricked just over the 10,000 mark for the whole year, it would have been a very, very good performance for a literary author.


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