March 14, 2018
Last year JK Rowling reclaimed the No 1 spot in the bestseller charts by returning from mundane reality to the Potterverse (with the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child playscript); and before that EL James topped the 2015 charts by revisiting the Fifty Shades world from Christian’s perspective. In 2017 it was Jamie Oliver’s turn to play the comeback champion, after managing a best position of only 40th a year ago and being described in (ahem) the 2016 bestsellers analysis piece as "apparently fading”.Find the latest book reviews, photos, videos and featured stories on Shine News. SHINE provides trusted national and world news as well as local and regional perspectives.
Mysteriously revitalised (surely there’s more to it than Channel 4 restoring him to peak-time after marooning him in the afternoon?), Oliver leads a markedly blokey top 10 dominated by recurring figures, with two David Walliams titles joined by books from Dan Brown, Lee Child, Jeff Kinney and Guinness World Records.These near-perpetual kings of Christmas have been able to retain or regain their places in the chart’s elite without difficulty because in 2017 only Philip Pullman’s La Belle Sauvage (10) exemplified the kind of windfalls publishers and booksellers have become accustomed to, when big names – such as Bill Bryson, Harper Lee and Alex Ferguson as well as Rowling and James – enter the pre-festive fray and take on the producers of annual instalments or iterations of a series.
It helps too that the challenges previously posed to this oligopoly by short-lived fads have receded, and were not replaced in 2017 by another vogue with the same commercial impact. Adult colouring books, for instance, still sell – Keep Calm and Colour Unicorns was among the most popular – but no longer well enough to make this list, let alone the top 10 as in their heyday. YouTube idols venturing into print have disappeared too, as have Minecraft manuals. Several more jokey updated versions of Ladybird or Enid Blyton books (which between them had three top 20 entries in 2016) were released, perhaps for the final year, but the best-selling were just outside the top 100.
Other trends also showed signs of being past their best, yet appeared relatively robust. While the diet/fitness titles of Joe Wicks (who claimed Nos 3 and 7 in 2016) may have peaked, slots at Nos 17, 31 and 40 are not to be sneezed at. Paula Hawkins’s second outing, Into the Water, was unable to match The Girl on the Train (itself continuing to flourish at 11 thanks to the film version) but nevertheless managed to grab 33rd place as a hardback; this and the strong performances of The Couple Next Door (3) by Canada’s Shari Lapena – the sole woman in the top 10 – and Clare Mackintosh’s I See You (14) suggest it’s too soon to write off the psychological thriller.
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