And the results are in!

The folks over at Nielsen, the ones who collect book industry sales data and provide the newspapers those time-honoured weekly bestseller rankings, have shared with me 15 weeks worth of sales data covering all the novels nominated for this year’s Booker Prize. I’ve studied the data and summarised the interesting bits in the infographic-style visualisations that follow.

The format of the article is similar to last year’s, but I’ve been given more data this time and have been able to more fully report on the boost effect for all the novels. This year’s data also includes sales figures subsequent to the final winner’s announcement, which makes for some thrilling reading. Got your popcorn?

So here we go again. What effect does the Booker buzz have on sales? What’s the difference between being longlisted and shortlisted? Do new and established authors stand to benefit equally?


This year, the dates to note when reading the data are:

These are marked by vertical white lines on the charts. Notice how sales shoot up in response to the announcements.

The sales trend charts show the fluctuations in sales volumes for each of the books during the 15 weeks from Sunday 7th July to the end of the week commencing Sunday 13th October. I’ve inferred all sales figures from the units shifted, as reported by Nielsen, and the RRP of the book. The effect of the Booker buzz on each of the books is summarised succintly by a 3-point scale endorsed by leading scientists, ranging from ‘benign’ to ‘bombastic’ .

Scroll to the bottom of the page for a detailed explanation on how to read the visualisations. Click on the visualisations to enlarge.

See here for Booker 2012 data and infographics.

Thanks again to Nielsen for sharing the data (© 2013 Nielsen Book Services Limited). Thanks also to Four Colman Getty for their support and to Katy Stoddard from the Guardian for creating the impetus.

Longlisted Novels

1. Almost English

2. Five Star Billionaire

3. The Kills

5. The Spinning Heart

6. Transatlantic

7. Unexploded

Shortlisted Novels

8. For the Time Being

9. The Testament of Mary

10. Harvest

11. The Lowland

12. We Need New Names

The Winning Novel

13. The Luminaries


Booker 2013 Summary Stats

Appendix- How to read the infographics


Numbered legend above.

  1. This is the number of weeks the book has already been out for and also the number of novels the author already has under their belt. Does a Booker nomination help rekindle interest in books that have been on shelves for a long time? Do new and established authors benefit equally?
  2. This chart shows the estimated volume of sales for the book from week to week from week commencing Sunday 7th July to week commencing Sunday 13th October. The volumes are inferred from the RRP of the book and the number of units sold according to Nielsen. I’ve let out the vertical axis to cut down on distraction, but bear in mind that the scales are relative to the book in question. There are three dates to note: July 23rd – longlist announced; September 10th – shortlist announced; and October 15th – winner announced. These are marked on the chart with vertical white lines.
  3. This is intended to give a flavour of the novel. It’s the first sentence or two from the book.
  4. Here I’ve cut the sales data into four segments corresponding to the various stages of the Prize, including the two weeks prior to the first announcement. The bars indicate the average weekly sales for the novel during these stages and the ‘max boost’ figure indicates the highest extent to which the sales increased during the Booker period.
  5. And here’s the conclusion. How much effect has the Booker buzz had for each of the books? I’ve used a 3-point scale widely embraced in the scientific community to score the impact, taking into consideration the average weekly sales boost the novels received after each announcement. I’ve also estimated the incremental sales the book got during this 15-week period as a result of the buzz created by the Booker Prize.
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