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A Christmas Book Boom in the UK; Sales Flat in the US

7 January 2002

A £30 million last-minute surge in book sales in the week before Christmas made this a bumper year for UK booksellers. Cumulative sales for the year to 22 December had fallen by 5% on the previous year, but a sudden leap in retail sales in general in the last week before the holiday boosted book sales for the whole year. This is in line with consumer purchasing, which has remained relatively strong through the autumn and into the January sales.

In the US the picture was less rosy, with most bookstores reporting sales flat or slightly down on 2000. The disappointing sales were attributed to the poor economy and the after-effects of 11 September, but many commentators thought that even flat sales were welcome in what has been a very poor year for book sales. Many of the big fall books, including the fiction bestseller 'bankers', sold disastrously, and there is continuing uncertainty in the book world about when the world's largest economy will come out of recession - and what kind of 2002 the book business can expect.