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First research on the sales of translated fiction in the UK shows growth and comparative strength of international fiction

First research on the sales of translated fiction in the UK shows growth and comparative strength of international fiction


The volume sales of translated fiction books have grown by 96% since 2001 against a market which is falling overall



Value of sales of translated fiction have risen from £8.9 million to £18.6 million between 2001 and 2015



Translated literary fiction makes up only 3.5% of the literary fiction titles published in the UK, but 7% of the volume of sales



The Man Booker International Prize has commissioned Nielsen Book to conduct an unprecedented research project into the translated fiction market. Nielsen Book examined and coded the data on physical book sales between 2001 and April 2016. The findings show that the proportion of translated fiction published remains extremely low at 1.5% overall and 3.5% of literary fiction. However, in terms of sales, fiction punches well above its weight with translated fiction providing 5% of total fiction sales in 2015 and translated literary fiction making up 7% of literary fiction sales in 2015. On average, translated fiction books sell better than books originally written in English, particularly in literary fiction.



The translated fiction market is rising, against a stagnating general fiction market. In 2001 51.6 million physical fiction books were sold, falling to 49.7 million in 2015. However translated fiction rose from 1.3 million copies sold a year to 2.5 million. In the literary fiction market, the rise was from 1 million copies to 1.5 million.



During the period of study, literary fiction books were translated from 91 languages, from Afrikaans to Yiddish. The most popular source language was French, with 200,000 books selling in 2001, rising to over 400,000 in 2015.  Sales of Italian literary fiction rose from 37,000 in 2001 to 237,000 in 2015, due in no small part to the Ferrante phenomenon. Sales of Korean books have risen from only 88 copies in 2001 to 10,191 in 2015, a reflection of the South Korea market focus at London Book Fair in 2014. As has been noted by the Man Booker International Prize judges, the languages of the Indian sub-continent are extremely under-represented with just a handful of titles published from Kannada and a fall in the number of literary fiction from Hindi available in the period from 686 to 299 titles.



 



Top five source languages literary fiction titles sold in UK, 2001 and 2015









Rank


2001


2015


1


French


French


2


Brazilian Portuguese


Italian


3


Spanish


Japanese


4


Russian


Swedish


5


Mandarin


German


A snapshot of the market can be seen in the top ten bestselling titles of 2001 and 2015. Popular authors dominate the charts, Coehlo in 2001, Ferrante in 2015, but volume sales are growing in the mid-range of the chart.



 



Bestselling translated literary fiction titles 2001














Rank


Title


Author


Translator


Language


Volume Sales


1


The Alchemist


Paulo Coelho


Alan R. Clarke


Brazilian Portuguese


114,430


2


Shanghai Baby


Wei Hui


Bruce Humes


Mandarin


54,104


3


Atomised


Michel Houellebecq


Frank Wynne


French


51,323


4


Daughter of Fortune


Isabel Allende


Margaret Sayers Peden


Spanish


33,488


5


Norwegian Wood


Haruki Murakami


Jay Rubin


Japanese


24,149


6


Veronika Decides to Die


Paulo Coelho


Margaret Jull Costa


Brazilian Portuguese


23,941


7


Sophie’s World


Jostein Gaarder


Paulette Moller


Norwegian


20,746


8


Soul Mountain


Gao Xingjian


Mabel Lee


Mandarin


20,282


9


Perfume


Patrick Süskind


John E. Woods


German


19,167


10


The House of the Spirits


Isabel Allende


Magda Bogin


Spanish


16,651



 


 



Bestselling translated literary fiction titles 2015














Rank


Title


Author


Translator


Language


Volume Sales


1


My Brilliant Friend


Elena Ferrante


Ann Goldstein


Italian


108,969


2


The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair


Joël Dicker


Sam Taylor


French


87,002


3


Look Who’s Back


Timur Vermes


Jamie Bulloch


German


68,461


4


A Man Called Ove


Fredrik Backman


Henning Koch


Swedish


66,043


5


The Guest Cat


Takashi Hiraide


Eric Selland


Japanese


46,684


6


Suite Française


Irène Némirovsky


Sandra Smith


French


46,532


7


Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage


Haruki Murakami


Philip Gabriel


Japanese


40,236


8


The Story of a New Name


Elena Ferrante


Ann Goldstein


Italian


35,229


9


Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay


Elena Ferrante


Ann Goldstein


Italian


35,229


10


The Alchemist


Paulo Coehlo


Alan R. Clarke


Brazilian Portuguese


22,978


'I’m delighted to see this confirmation of the health and growth potential of international fiction in the UK. I hope that the evidence of that translated fiction can sell well, alongside the new focus of the Man Booker International Prize, will encourage publishers and agents to take more risks and invest in translation.' comments Fiammetta Rocco, Administrator of the Man Booker International Prize.



'We are excited to be working on a project of this scope and size in an area that is not accurately measured. Translated works are growing in importance as our global world becomes ever more connected. Early results are interesting and we hope to expand the research both the UK and elsewhere.' comments Andre Breedt, Director Nielsen Book Research.



For the first time, the Man Booker International Prize will be on the basis of a single book, translated into English, after having joined forces with the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize last year. The prize is sponsored by Man Group, one of the world’s largest independent alternative investment managers, which also sponsors the Man Booker Prize for Fiction. Both prizes strive to recognise and reward the finest in contemporary literature.



 



themanbookerprize.com  |  @ManBookerPrize  |  #MBI2016 | #FinestFiction



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For press enquiries please contact:



Sara.Kietzmann@FourColmanGetty.com  |  +44 20 3697 4243



Truda.Spruyt@FourColmanGetty.com  | + 44 20 3697 4248



 



Notes to Editors:



  • Nielsen coded full-depth physical book Fiction sales data charts from its BookScan measurement from 2001 to 2016 into language categories using Nielsen’s bibliographic records and a manual process. Over 500,000 titles were inspected. Not every title has been assigned a language and anything not coded has been assumed to be English language. This project is ongoing and due to the lack of standard international data on transalations, subject to revision. Interested parties, academic and commercial are welcome to contact Nielsen with comment or support.

  • Nielsen Book is a leading provider of search, discovery, commerce, consumer research and retail sales analysis services globally. Nielsen runs the Registration Agencies (ISBN and SAN Agencies for UK & Ireland, ISTC), provides search and discovery products through its Nielsen BookData product range, electronic trading via Nielsen BookNet and PubEasy services, retail sales analysis via Nielsen BookScan and consumer research through its Books and Consumer Survey.


 The winner of the 2016 Man Booker International Prize will be announced on 16 May. The six shortlisted titles were chosen from 155 entries and include:            



A General Theory of Oblivion (Harvill Secker), José Eduardo Agualusa (Angola), Daniel Hahn (UK)



The Story of the Lost Child (Europa Editions), Elena Ferrante (Italy), Ann Goldstein (USA)



The Vegetarian (Portobello Books), Han Kang (South Korea), Deborah Smith (UK)



A Strangeness in My Mind (Faber & Faber), Orhan Pamuk (Turkey), Ekin Oklap (Turkey)



A Whole Life (Picador), Robert Seethaler (Austria), Charlotte Collins (UK)



The Four Books (Chatto & Windus), Yan Lianke  (China), Carlos Rojas (USA



·         The Administrator of the Man Booker International Prize is Fiammetta Rocco – Books and Arts Editor of The Economist. The Literary Director of the Booker Prize Foundation is Gaby Wood, who succeeded Ion Trewin after his death in April 2015



·         Books under consideration have been published in English in translation by UK publishers between 1 January 2015 and 30 April 2016. This will become an annual process, with the eligible period of publication in subsequent years being from 1 May until 30 April the following year



·         There is no restriction on the number of submissions per publisher but this will be kept under review and may change in future years



·         Four Colman Getty handles PR and event management for the prize and provides all events and administrative back-up



·         The Man Booker International Prize website includes detailed information about all aspects of the prize and runs regular news bulletins: www.themanbookerprize.com



·         The Booker Prize Foundation Advisory Committee, which advises on any changes to the rules and on the selection of the judges, represents all aspects of the book world. Its members are:  Richard Cable – publisher, Random House;  Mark Chilton – Company Secretary and General Counsel of Booker Group plc; Jonty Claypole – Head of Arts, BBC; James Daunt – Managing Director of Waterstones; Jonathan Douglas – Director of the National Literacy Trust; Maggie Fergusson – writer and Secretary of the Royal Society of Literature; Adam Freudenheim –  Publisher, Pushkin Press;  Derek Johns – Author & Literary Agent; Peter Kemp – Chief Fiction Reviewer, The Sunday Times; Nigel Newton – publisher, Bloomsbury; Fiammetta Rocco – Books and Arts Editor, The Economist (Man Booker International Prize Administrator); Michal Shavit - publishing director, Jonathan Cape; Rosanna Konarzewski  – Global Head of Communications and Marketing, Man Group; Eve Smith – Secretary, the Booker Prize Foundation; Robert Topping – Topping & Company Booksellers



·         The Booker Prize Foundation is a registered charity (no 1090049) established in 2002, since when it has been responsible for the award of the Man Booker Prize for Fiction, and for the Man Booker International Prize since its inauguration in 2005. The trustees of the Booker Prize Foundation are: Baroness Kennedy QC – Chair, former Chair of the British Council and Principal of Mansfield College, Oxford; Lord Baker of Dorking CH; Bidisha – writer, critic and broadcaster; Victoria Glendinning CBE – biographer; James Naughtie – broadcaster; Christopher Pearce – former Finance Director of Rentokil plc; Professor Louise Richardson – Vice Chancellor of the University of Oxford; Ben Okri – writer and former Man Booker Prize winner. Jonathan Taylor CBE is President of the Foundation and Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne, Sir Ronald Harwood and Baroness Neuberger are Vice Presidents



·         Man Group has sponsored the Man Booker Prize since 2002. A leading alternative investment management firm founded in 1783, Man Group was recognised as a partner who mirrored the quality, integrity and longevity of the Booker Prize. The prize underscores Man Group's charitable focus on literacy and education as well as the firm’s commitment to excellence and entrepreneurship. Together with the wider charitable activities of the Booker Prize Foundation, the prize plays a very important role in promoting literary excellence on a global scale that the firm is honoured to support



·         Man Group is one of the world’s largest independent alternative investment managers, and a leader in liquid investment strategies. Across its four investment managers (Man AHL, Man FRM, Man GLG and Man Numeric), Man Group has diverse hedge fund strategies and long only products spanning equity, credit, managed futures, convertibles, emerging markets and multi-manager solutions. At 31 March  2016, Man Group’s funds under management were $78.6 billion. The original business was founded in 1783. Today, Man Group plc is listed on the London Stock Exchange under the ticker EMG.L and is a constituent of the FTSE 250 Index. Man Group supports many awards, charities and initiatives around the world, including sponsorship of the Man Booker literary prizes. Further information can be found at www.man.com



·         Booker is the UK's leading food wholesaler with over 170 branches nationwide.  It serves over 350,000 independent businesses



·         The Independent Foreign Fiction Prize joined forces with the Man Booker International Prize in 2015. Last year’s winner of the IFFP was The End of Days by Jenny Erpenbeck, translated from German by Susan Bernofsy and published by Portobello Books. The IFFP was launched in 1990 and ran until 1995. The Prize was revived with the support of Arts Council England in 2001 and was managed by reading charity Book Trust until 2005. The £10,000 prize money and associated costs were supported using public funding by Arts Council England, and the Prize was also supported by The Independent and Champagne Taittinger