Top 10 Most Borrowed Authors in UK Libraries

February 14, 2006

Catherine Cookson, the author who was the librarians favourite for decades with her highly successful romance novels, last week lost her crown of being the most borrowed author from British libraries, when she fell out of the top ten listings for the first time since records began.

Cookson, who died in 1998 aged 91 years old, fell from the top ten of most borrowed authors, to the popular children’s author Jacqueline Wilson three years ago. Latest figured placed Cookson at 11th place after Wilson held onto the coveted number one spot for the third year running.

Figures published by the Public Lending Right (PLR) since 1984, indicate that the Tracy Beaker author notched up more than two million loans during 2004/5. Wilson, who is also the current Children’s Laureate, said she was “thrilled” to be number one for the third year running.

Chick-lit author Josephine Cox came second followed by Danielle Steel. Crime and thriller writers James Patterson, John Grisham, Ian Rankin and Bernard Cornwell were in the top 10, alongside children’s writers Mick Inkpen, Janet and Allan Ahlberg and Roald Dahl. Commentators have suggested a change in borrower’s tastes after such notable borrowing figures for writers like Ian Rankin. The Scot has seen his Rebus novels move him into eighth position, a higher slot than was ever expected for writers of his genre.

Five years ago Cookson occupied nine out of the top 10 places in the fiction list. Today the author, with over one hundred published books to her name, has fallen to eleventh and some people are hinting this may not just be down to changing tastes of the country’s readers, but of her ageing fan base.

Simon Brett, chairman of the PLR Advisory Committee, said: “The data helps to build up a revealing picture of the nation’s reading habits. This year sees crime fiction and thrillers stealing a march on romance. Maybe this is an indication that national tastes are becoming increasingly macabre.”

The Top 10

1. Jacqueline Wilson
2. Josephine Cox
3. Danielle Steel
4. James Patterson
5. Mick Inkpen
6. Janet and Allan Ahlberg
7. John Grisham
8. Ian Rankin
9. Roald Dahl
10. Bernard Cornwell

Source: PLR


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