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Michelle Obama’s Becoming topped the bestseller charts in the UK at Christmas selling more than 90,000 copies and becoming the first ever Christmas bestseller written by a person of colour. The former First Lady is also the first woman to take the number one slot in the Christmas charts in the UK since JK Rowling with The Tales of Beedle the Bard in 2008.
The final full week of trading saw good news for bricks and mortar bookshops in the UK, with 8.1m print books sold for £73.2m, up 3% in value and 1% in volume.
Across the Atlantic, politics also led to a stellar year for Simon & Schuster in the US where chief executive Carolyn Reidy described the sales of Bob Woodward’s Fear: Trump in the White House as “phenomenal”. Fear is the fastest growing audiobook title in the publisher’s history. In an end-of-year letter to staff Reidy said that publication of Woodward’s title was “an international publishing event and a textbook example of how our entire organisation, worldwide, can work as one to coordinate a picture-perfect publication launch, and then follow through to meet the extraordinary demand when sales skyrocket”.
She also noted that Simon & Schuster has been Woodward’s only publisher, “a relationship that stretches back to 1974 and the publication of All the President’s Men and a testament to the durability of our author relationships”.
In his end-of-year letter Markus Dohle, Michelle Obama’s publisher, praised PRH employees globally for “your unwavering commitment and dedication to our publishing; our collective, abiding belief in the power of words, stories and ideas; and our responsibility as corporate citizens that resulted in continued success for Penguin Random House”.
It was a book about US politics again that took the first non-fiction author into Forbes’ Highest-Paid Authors list for the first time in more than ten years. This honour fell to Michael Wolff, whose Fire and Fury (Little, Brown) helped earn the author $13m according to the magazine.
All-in-all, US politics has provided bestsellers on both sides of the Atlantic; if there is a worry for booksellers now, it is how that success will be repeated in the coming year.