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Poetry sales boom

16 April 2018

There's good news in Bookbrunch about poetry sales coming from the UK, the market is up two-thirds since 2012. A 66% increase in poetry sales over the past five years has led to a million poetry books being sold with a total value of £1.1m. There has been a boom in poetry events and festivals, with increased interest in the work of living poets with strong online followings.

Andre Breedt, md of Nielsen BookScan, said: ‘My theory is that in times of political uncertainty people turn to poetry to understand the world in which they live.'

We've often reported on the amazing sales of Rupi Kaur and Insta-poets such as Nikita Gill, but many other poets are also benefiting from the surge in interest amongst readers, poetry event attendees and online.

There's been a change in poets too. 3.1 % of the adult population of England wrote poetry in the year 2015-16, according to the Taking Part survey. This translates into 1.4 million adults directly engaged with the genre, the same proportion of people who say they attended contemporary dance. Demographic analysis of England's 1.4 million poets suggests they are as a group significantly more diverse than the audiences/participants for other cultural forms, including theatre, opera, ballet and contemporary art. Poetry writers are younger and less white than the typical population sample, with a high proportion of women and of individuals defining themselves as LGBTQ.

The figures were revealed at this year's London Book Fair which also saw a poetry summit - convened by National Poetry Day and Inpress Books - which brought together speakers from across publishing as well as insta-poet Nikita Gill and Poet of the Fair Imtiaz Dharker, a Glasgow-born Muslim Calvinist.

Emma Smith of Trapeze, publisher of Nikita Gill's collection, Wild Embers, said: "Instagram alone features 19 million posts with the hashtag #poetry. Insta-poets like Nikita are using social media intelligently, bringing poetry to a broader, mainstream audience. This removes barriers to access, and also converts very well into book sales."

Oliver Mantell of The Audience Agency suggested that these diverse writers, who consume poetry in many forms as well as creating it, are driving innovation: "It's clear that there's not one poetry audience, but several poetry audiences. What we now need to know is who each of those audiences are and how they are inter-related."