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Bestselling books 2014: the kids are alright

28 December 2014

From The Guardian:

At long last, kids ruled in 2014. Books aimed at them have often figured in the top 10 of the all-year sales chart for printed books, but in the respective heydays of JK Rowling, Stephenie (Twilight) Meyer and Suzanne (The Hunger Games)Collins the rest of the elite group usually consisted of grown-up titles and there was always a chance that one such mega-seller – by Dan Brown, say, or EL James– would pip them to the top spot.

This year, in contrast, seven of the top tier books including the No 1 – by John Green, David Walliams and Jeff Kinney, plus four Minecraft manuals – are for children or young adults and an eighth, Guinness World Records, is predominantly aimed at them.

. . . .

What’s fascinating about this is that there should be a market for video game spin-off books at all, let alone such a stunning one. There’s no shortage of Minecraft tutorials on YouTube, in its own online domain, but rather reassuringly young gamers en masse evidently felt a need for a hardback handbook opened next to their PCs – a demand reflecting the relative robustness of manuals of all types and children’s books, compared to other genres whose print sales and revenue have been hit harder by readers’ inexorable (though possibly slowing) flight to ebooks.

. . . .

Just like YouTube idols transformed into writers, reminiscing celebrities capitalise on their screen fame (usually on television) to win publishing deals; but the 2014 list confirms that the public long ago got out of the habit of seeing the resulting books as ideal Christmas presents. Besides the late Lynda Bellingham’s autobiography (12), two sports books, by Guy Martin (32) and Roy Keane (37), are the only hardback memoirs in the top 100. Yet publishers still seem in denial about the once-mighty subgenre’s slump, shelling out for much-hyped autumn offerings from John Cleese, Stephen Fry, John Lydon, Graham Norton and others that all flopped.

. . . .

More surprising is the decline of cookery titles, which until recently gave crime and children’s fiction a good fight for the highest positions. The genre’s talisman Jamie Oliver, who up to 2012 routinely occupied a top 10 spot and for several years running was the Christmas-week No 1, now languishes at No 23. Mary Berry is ahead of him at No 13, but you’d expect her to be higher, given The Great British Bake Off’s vast audience.

Link to the rest at The Guardian

Bestsellers, Children's Books, Non-US

21 Comments to “Bestselling books 2014: the kids are alright”

  1. You can find out how to cook anything with a quick google search.

    • Exactly. I used to glom all sorts of diet and low-fat or low-carb or one-dish or 5-ingredient or ethnic cookbooks. Now, I google. And Kindle has oodles of free ones.

  2. There are plenty of popular Minecraft manuals, true, but they’re ignoring all the Minecraft fiction. That’s what’s amazing to me.

    Much of the Minecraft fiction is Kindle-only, which, of course, they also ignore.

  3. A 105-page collection of Minecraft short stories is sitting at sales rank 1,005 right now. That’s for the entire paid Kindle store.

  4. I’m now sorely tempted to rewrite Robinson Crusoe as minecraft fiction.

    Question, though: aren’t these authors creating derivative works? They’re quite clearly piggybacking off the success and renown of the game. Should they not be licensing those rights from Mojang/Microsoft?

    I understand that these people may not know or care enough to do so, and MS may not think the profit-cut they could offer is worth their time legally pursuing, just wondering if there’s something I’m missing.

    Edit: Their EULA prohibits any kind of commercial use “Essentially the simple rule is do not make commercial use of anything we‘ve made unless specifically agreed by us, either in our brand and asset usage guidelines or under this EULA.”


  5. What’s fascinating about this is that there should be a market for video game spin-off books at all, let alone such a stunning one.

    I feel like this betrays a stunning lack of knowledge about gaming in general. I also question whether the premise of the entire article is resting on the idea that the simple fact that a book’s focus is on videogames automatically makes that book “YA.”

    Because adults don’t play videogames, I guess?

    I Amazoned “mine craft” and found these four manuals:


    I wonder if these are the four the article is thinking of.

    I also note the product page indicates an age range of 8 to 12 years. I can’t remember where I read that most adult fiction is written at a sixth grade reading level, but I’m almost certain I have.

  6. The title, “The Kids are Alright,” is wrong. Should be two words, “all right,” or does the Guardian think Americans spell it that way? We don’t. At least I don’t, having been taught better.

    • In my experience, most do spell it that way. It probably won’t be long before it becomes officially acceptable.

    • It’s a merged word, like “altogether” and “already”, it’s just more recent. People still object to it in formal English, but it’s rapidly gaining acceptance via general use. Language evolves.

      • I think it’s ridiculous we don’t just accept it altogether already. 😀 Really.

        Not just because it’s so widely used, but because there is precedent. And it really looks cooler than “all right,” which makes me think more of perfect-score tests than “okay.”

    • The expression “The Kids are Alright” comes from the song written by Pete Townsend of The Who. That’s the way he spelled it. It’s also spelled that way in the documentary film about The Who. In my experience, use of ‘alright’ vs ‘all right’ is far more common in current British fiction than American. Those value-added editors the Big Five provide (at no cost… ahem) to their traditionally published UK authors don’t seem to object. Most grammar sources on both sides of the pond frown on ‘alright’ but that doesn’t seem to be slowing the spread there or here in the US. The 2010 film by Lisa Cholodenko uses the phrase but spells it THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT.

    • I hate “alright.” I know it will eventually be considered an acceptable spelling, but never in my own books. Never.

      • Well, it’s not acceptable in US English now, so I don’t use it. But I think it really IS acceptable and it’s only rigidity among the PTB that holds it back. We now can split infinitives and end with prepositions. Alright will be legit, to join albeit, already, altogether, always.


  7. I bought all of those Minecraft books for my 11yo. He loved them and read them over and over again.

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