Intuitively, I subscribe to Walter Cronkite’s view that libraries are a good thing. But after all the outrage about the impact of public sector cuts it came as a bit of a surprise that there are still some day centres for the homeless and unemployed aka public libraries left open here in Blighty. What brought this startling fact to my attention – frankly, I can’t remember the last time I went to a library – are figures, released by the Public Lending Right which manages payments to authors showing the top 100 books borrowed from libraries between July 2012 and June 2013. Authors get 6.20p each time a book is borrowed but their annual earnings are capped at £6,600 a book per annum. Regrettably, I have yet to get a cheque from the PLR but one day… mark my words!
Lee Child with The Affair at number one with almost 80,000 borrowings and A Wanted Man occupies the top two places followed closely behind (I use the term advisedly) by the bane of British charity shops, Fifty Shades of Grey. Unusually the top three spots are occupied by British authors.
James Patterson has fifteen books in the top 100 making him the UK’s most borrowed author and six of the top ten children’s books borrowed were penned by the Daisy Rainbow collective. However, the number one children’s book was Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw.
The most borrowed non-fiction book was the Hairy Bikers’ book, The Hairy Dieters: How to Love Food and Lose Weight, followed by Clare Balding’s My Animals and Other Family, showing the pernicious influence of television.
The analysis published shows some interesting regional variations:
• Titles from the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series proved most popular in the East Midlands, London and the West Midlands
• Fifty Shades of Grey was the most loaned library book in the East
• Lee Child’s A Wanted Man proved most popular both in the North East and in Wales
• Children’s book Shark in the Dark! was number one in the North West and Merseyside
• The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry hit the top spot in Northern Ireland
• The Affair by Lee Child was top of library loans in Scotland
• The Real Katie Lavender by Erica James was number one in the South East
• I Love You, Blue Kangaroo! was the most popular title in the South West
• Hilary Mantel’s Man Booker Prize winning novel Bring Up the Bodies was top of the list in Yorkshire and the Humber
With the exception of Hilary Mantel’s Bring Up the Bodies – does this qualify me for being a Yorkshireman – I can’t say I have read any of the titles featured in the listing. I’m not sure what that says about my taste. As I have long suspected, perhaps I’m just out of touch with real life.