While library users in London and the north cannot get enough of tales of blood and violence, it has emerged that borrowers in the south and east prefer the thrills supplied by romantic novels.
According to data released by the Public Lending Right (PLR), thrillers – and in particular thrillers by James Patterson – continue to exert an inexorable pull for the majority of the UK’s library users. The US powerhouse, who publishes multiple titles every year, has been named the most borrowed author from UK libraries for the 11th year in a row.
Patterson, whose books have been borrowed 22m times since 2007, said he was delighted to retain his library crown, and threw his support firmly behind the UK’s embattled libraries. “I firmly believe that better readers become better thinkers and I think libraries are an integral part of any community, as they are essential in helping to share and spread the joy of reading,” said Patterson, whose most popular title this year, Bullseye, was the UK’s ninth most borrowed book.
Patterson’s consistently high PLR rating owes a good deal to his consistently high output of novels, which now number in the hundreds. This, in turn, is helped by the author’s willingness to use the services of co-writers – the latest of whom, this summer, was former US president Bill Clinton.
All 10 of the UK’s most borrowed titles are thrillers, revealed PLR, with Paula Hawkins’s The Girl on the Train topping the chart for the second year running, followed by a raft of titles by Lee Child. Calculated by region, thrillers from Hawkins and Child were also the most borrowed books in London, the West Midlands, Scotland, and Yorkshire and the Humber.
“Across the northern counties readers in the north-east have a penchant for crime/thrillers with seven of the books in the top 10 belonging to this genre. [Library users] in the north-west and Merseyside ensured that nine of the top 10 most borrowed books also belonged to this category,” said PLR, also revealing that crime fiction took all of the top 10 spots in Wales.
In England’s eastern counties, however, readers made Milly Johnson’s novel Sunshine Over Wildflower Cottage their top read, while in the south-east, Jojo Moyes’s sequel to Me Before You, After You, topped the charts, with Maeve Binchy also riding high.
In the south-west, meanwhile, the top nine titles borrowed from libraries were all by Roald Dahl, while in Northern Ireland, Jeff Kinney and other children’s authors filled out the top 10.
Children’s authors take up four of the top five slots in the overall most-borrowed authors list, with Patterson’s top spot followed by The Gruffalo author Julia Donaldson, Rainbow Magic creator Daisy Meadows, Dahl and Roderick Hunt. Each author was borrowed more than 1m times last year.
The organisation, which was established by an act of parliament in 1979 and is funded by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, pays authors 8.2p each time their books are loaned, distributing £6m in February 2018.
On 1 July, it began to collect remote ebook loans data, with the first payments to be made from 2020. The author Tom Holland, who chairs the PLR advisory committee, said: “This will be hugely to the benefit of authors, who are fully aware that printed books these days are not the only way of reaching their readers.”