British consumer spending on books rose 5% last year, while purchases in independent stores dropped for the second consecutive year, according to a report prepared for the Booksellers Association annual conference.

The report on the British book market, conducted by Book Marketing Ltd., found that during 2001, British consumers spent £2.15 billion on books, which was up 5% over the previous year. The increase in volume was just 3%, to 345 million units, reflecting a raised unit price per book sold in 2001. The average price of an adult title in 2001 was £7.20, compared to £7.15 in 2000, a rise of 1%. The average children's book price increased 5%, from £3.90 in 2000 to £4.10 in 2001.

Strongest growth in the retail sector came from book and stationery shops, large chain bookshops, bargain bookshops and supermarkets. Independent and specialist bookshops fared worse, with purchases falling for two consecutive years. Book clubs did not perform well and purchasing on the Internet was flat—4% by units and 5% by pounds.

The rise in spending was most significant in the adult market, up 7% in 2001, to £1.73 billion. Fiction and nonfiction sales grew for adults in both pounds and units in paperback, but not in hardcover.

There has been a decrease in the number of books bought for children in the last five years, driven by fewer purchases of books for the 0—6 age group. This is a reflection of demographics, because the number of fiction and nonfiction titles published for ages seven and up has increased over the past two years. And, of course, Harry Potter continues to dominate the market, as the best performing genre since 1999.