Jamie Oliver has the Christmas Number One Book
But MPs Cook Up Their Own Winner
Dateline: London, 21st December… Jamie Oliver’s 30-Minute Meals (Penguin) is this year’s Christmas number one book, according to today’s book sales figures released by Nielsen BookScan. The book outsold its nearest rival, A Simples Life: the Life and Times of Aleksandr Orlov (Random House) by the advertising world’s most famous CGI meercat, by two copies to one in the last seven days. Jamie Oliver last had the Christmas number one in 2005, for Jamie’s Italy (Penguin).
Unlike last year, when the race for the number one position was tightly fought between Dan Brown, Stephenie Meyer and Guinness World Records (Guinness), Jamie Oliver has been the front runner all the way, according to Waterstone’s. “Jamie is always big at Christmas, but this book has been something else – we sold more of it by the end of November than we did of last year’s Jamie’s America by the New Year.” Waterstone’s puts this stunning leap in sales down to Jamie reconnecting with his core audience. “This was classic Jamie; great recipes, enthusiastically explained and easily achieved. It’s a book that will get used, a lot.”
Runners-up to Jamie this year were Orlov, Guinness World Records, What You See is What You Get by Alan Sugar (Macmillan) and One Day by David Nicholls (Hodder and Stoughton). Jamie Oliver’s 30-Minute Meals has sold over one million copies (1,024186) so far, with still five days of trading to go. “No matter what the weather, tens of thousands of copies of Jamie’s new book will be sold this week,” says Howells. “The internet can’t deliver now, but Waterstone’s high street shops have plenty of copies.” Waterstone’s also pointed to the success of David Nicholl’s One Day. “This is a book that has made the top five in Christmas week by word of mouth alone – no big name author, no TV or film adaptation – just a great romantic novel that people are taking to their hearts more and more each week,” said Howells.
Rupert Adams of William Hill said, “Jamie has caught us all by surprise, he started as a 8-1 shot but finished at 1-12. It will take us longer than 30 minutes to pay out this lot!”
Carol Brownlee, Deputy Business Director of Nielsen BookScan said, “we are very excited to be able to announce the number one title this Christmas; Jamie was last in the number one slot in 2005. With the exposure books are now receiving and five shopping days left, we hope the retail trade will have a good run up to Christmas; it is an exciting end to the year.”
One group who won’t be waking up to Jamie Oliver on Saturday will be the nation’s MPs. In a ComRes survey conducted on behalf of Waterstone’s, MPs decided they would prefer to spend the holidays with the words of one of their own number. But it was not Tony Blair or Gordon Brown’s books that were chosen, but that of ex-Sunderland MP, Chris Mullin. Mullin’s two books (Decline and Fall, A View from the Foothills, Profile Books) were picked by 4% of responding MPs, while Tony Blair’s A Journey (Random House) and Gordon Brown’s Beyond the Crash (Simon & Schuster) were chosen by 3% apiece, as were Steig Larsson’s Millenium Trilogy (Quercus) and David Laws’ 22 Days in May (Biteback). Other political books chosen by MPs included George W Bush’s Decision Points (Virgin), Peter Mandelson’s The Third Man (HarperCollins) and Bob Woodward’s Obama’s Wars (Simon & Schuster).
However, not all MPs were expecting to enjoy their reading matter. A Conservative MP who chose Mandelson’s memoir did so because “it might be cold so I could use it to burn in the fire” while another chose both Mandelson and Blair’s book to discover “where things have gone wrong.” A Lib Dem from the east of England is hoping for some local history about Colchester so they can “look back on the ‘good old days’ and try to forget today’s problems.”
On the more positive side, the meerkat advertising star Alexander Orlov can take (fictional) comfort in the fact that one Conservative MP chose A Simples Life, as “it makes me laugh.”