is it Possible to use Book Sales Data to Find the Next Big Movie Franchise or TV Series?

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Since Nielsen BookScan records began in 1998, all of the top ten UK bestsellers have been turned into major films. Together, those top ten editions have sold more than 33m copies through UK tills counting book sales, earning £204m in revenue.

So how can you find the next Game of Thrones or The Girl on the Train?

Of the 30 bestselling titles, seven are Harry Potter books, four of them are from the Robert Langdon series, and three each are from the Twilight Saga and Fifty Shades of Grey series.

You can use Nielsen BookScan to find bestselling titles, see market trends, track growing demand categories, and be aware of international sales and global dominant markets.

Nielsen supplies data to a variety of media outlets including television, radio, newspapers, magazines and production companies, and UK clients include BBC, CBS, Disney, DreamWorks, Entertainment One, Sony, ITV and more.

You can also use the data to see the impact of the film or TV show on the book or author’s overall sales, reflecting the expanding reading and viewing audience. If there will be follow-up films or an ongoing series this can be especially beneficial, as a growing fan-base can lead to more success for both the book and adaptation.

One of those cases is Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. The first version of this book was published in 2012, and when the film was released, sales more than doubled compared to its first year on sale.

The sequel, After You, came out in paperback the same year as the film adaptation, reaching 480k copies in 2016, 200k more than the first year of Me Before You, as both readers of the original book and fans of the film read on to find what happened next. And most recently, Still Me was released in 2018 and has since sold more than 460k copies across print formats; together, the trilogy has sold nearly 2.5m copies just in the UK. Across all of her books, Jojo Moyes’ lifetime sales surpassed 4.0m in 2019, with many more bestsellers to her name.

Beyond looking at individual authors or titles, you can also can see what categories the consumers are most interested in, and what is growing both long term and year-on-year, as popular genres can extend across all forms of entertainment.

For instance, in the UK in 2019, Historical & Mythological Fiction reached its highest point on record, led by The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris and, translated from Spanish, The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe. Compared to five years ago, money spent on Crime, Thriller & Adventure books has grown 10%, with £109m spent on 16.4m books in 2019.

Beyond Fiction, sales of Vegetarian Cookery books surpassed 1.5m in 2019, with the category tripling in size in just two years, highlighting how much more mainstream and accessible veggie diets and lifestyles have become. And related to the growth in Vegetarian Cookery, 2019 saw an influx of books on the environment aimed at both adults and children, mirroring the wider conversations around more sustainable living. While Greta Thunberg was a big part of that, sales were up significantly even before her book No One is Too Small to Make a Difference was released.

Along with turning to books to learn to be better for the environment, book-buyers also continued their quests for personal development, with sales for books on Popular Psychology and Self-Improvement hitting new all-time highs in the UK.

Finally, some of the biggest books of the year, including THE biggest, Pinch of Nom, originated online; even with so much readily available digital content, consumers have proven they often still want a physical book. And underlining the lasting power of a book: more than a year after peak viral video, The Wonky Donkey has endured, with over 250k copies bought in 2019, and an additional 100k of sequel The Dinky Donkey.

Nielsen BookScan collects point-of-sale data from more than 25,000 stores worldwide, providing author and title sales, bestseller charts and market share data in 11 territories: the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, India, South Africa, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Mexico and Poland. This allows us to know what’s selling in terms of individual books and overall categories: What is up and down, what are book-buyers interested in reading and consuming, what are the driving trends in fiction, non-fiction and children’s, and how does that tie in with wider entertainment and culture?

Are you interested in knowing more about us and trends in books? You can contact Nielsen BookScan any time:

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