Irish readers return to print as book sales hit five-year high

Double-digit growth for the majority of Irish publishers...

Irish readers return to print as book sales hit five-year high

[Daniel Leal-Olivas PA Wire/PA Images]

The return of Harry Potter and written efforts from Irish stars such as Graham Norton and Paul O'Connell made 2016 a banner year for book publishers in Ireland, as print sales surged to a five-year high.

Following years of decline, Irish readers are evidently ditching the Kindle or tablet in favour of burying their heads in an actual book.

Sales hit €131 million over the last 12 months, with the number of books sold up 9% to a value of €11m. Their individual value also rose 11%. The average book cost €12 last year, the most expensive average since 2007.

JK Rowling's latest Harry Potter title was the most popular book in the country – The Cursed Child sold 69,890 copies and took just over €1.3m, according to Nielsen BookScan. It was written with Limerick journalist Alan English.

Former Irish rugby international Paul O'Connell was the only other author to break the million-mark, with The Battle memoir selling 66,738 copies and taking just under €1.25m.

Paul O'Connell. Picture by Joe Giddens PA Archive/PA Images

Graham Norton's debut novel, Holding, sold 51,814 copies and took just under €620,000. It was notably a bigger success on this side of the Irish Sea; it sold just over 30,000 copies in Britain.

Penguin Random House was the best-performing publisher, with a 22.3% market share and €29.3m in sales. It was followed by Hachette and HarperCollins.

Six out of 10 local publishers enjoyed double-digit sales growth, with Hachette being the only company to record a dip its fortunes.

Irish books account for nearly a quarter of the market, with sales worth €31.8m.

Kids' books continue to grow in popularity – with 31% of the market, they have a bigger slice than adult fiction. Food, diet and health books saw growth of over 30%.

Meanwhile, ebook sales remained flat.