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Irish Book Sales Continue to Soar

Fiction sales up 9% to €40 million higher than 2020 according to BookScan Irish Consumer Market (ICM) 2021 Summary

Book sales continued to climb despite pandemics and lockdowns with more than 13 million print books sold in Ireland in 2021. This marks the seventh year in a row of growth in Ireland, with the market improving by 3.8m books and €60m in spending since 2014. 

Top Titles 

Charlie Mackesy’s book The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse sat atop the 2021 chart from the beginning of the year and managed to keep the top spot. It was closely followed by Sally Rooney’s Beautiful World, Where Are You which only just held on to second place from the Gill published Aisling and the City who were only 2,000 copies behind Sally.

Fiction most definitely dominated the top 10 with six of the overall top places. But if you take a wider glance at the top 20 Non-Fiction takes the lead, claiming half the bestsellers. With the year we had it’s no surprise that five of these leading non-fiction titles were from the Personal Development and Mind, Body & Spirit categories and two of which focus on Ireland – An Post Book Awards Winner – We Don’t Know Ourselves by Fintan O’Toole and Old Ireland in Colour by John Breslin and Sarah Anne Buckley from Merrion Press. Another strong performer was Your One Wild and Precious Life by Maureen Gaffney from Penguin. 

Children’s books made an appearance in the Top 20 in a bigger way than usual with three listed including A Hug For You by David King from Penguin. Children’s books along with Young Adult and Educational publications also recorded a good year, surpassing 2020’s sales once again to achieve its highest year on record.

Publishers Performance 

The 2021 Top 5 list is identical to 2020’s for Irish Publishers, with Gill Group representing 5% of the overall Irish Consumer Market but almost 30% of books published in Ireland. Penguin Random House maintained their share of 20% of market value and noted an increase of 3%. Both  Hachette and HarperCollins recorded slight declines (1% respectively). 

The value of Irish published books in 2021 totalled €31m with school textbooks and study guides accounting for almost 30% of local publishing. 

Summary 

Although 2021 managed to surpass all other years measured, it wasn’t a completely positive year. The market was actually behind for most of the second half of 2021 but the almost 20% increase that occurred from Jan-June managed to buoy the entire year above the decline in autumn. The year culminated in the week leading up to Christmas recording more than €10m spent on books (this is only the eighth week on record that this has happened). 

The pandemic has caused uncertainty of course, but it seems that people are still turning to books in hard times. It is also reassuring to know that pre-pandemic 2020 statistics showed a strong market which leads us to believe this solid baseline of great book sales isn’t going anywhere.