What difference does winning the Nobel Prize in Literature make? BookNet Canada studied just how much difference it made to sales both at home and abroad of books by this year’s winner Alice Munro, who became the first Canadian author to win the prize on October 10. The numbers were dramatic.
BookNet Canada’s study compared print book sales data for Munro’s titles in 10 countries before and after the prize was announced, charting sales in the week ending September 21 through until the week ending November 10. BookNet used its own Canadian data and Nielsen BookScan contributed figures for Australia, India, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, South Africa, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
Naturally, the biggest sales spike was in Canada. In the week after the prize was announced, sales for her books jumped from 94 books to 6,345, a 6,650% increase.
Canada had the largest percentage increases over the most weeks, but the biggest jump in unit sales happened in the U.S. Sales jumped from under 3,000 books in the weeks before the prize announcment to 32,600 in the week that ended on November 2.
The study noted that sales in both countries were helped by the fact that the paperback edition of her latest book, Dear Life, came out in North America on October 8, two days before prize announcement, so the stores had lots of copies in stock.
In other countries, such as Australia, the study notes that the sales spike was delayed, likely due to stock availability issues.
Sales in most of the countries were primarily for English-language editions, but in Spain and Italy the book sold were mostly translations. Between the weeks of September 21 to October 26, sales in Italy increased 4,527% and in Spain by 3,041%.