James Patterson tops library lending chart

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US crime writers dominate the list of most borrowed authors from British libraries, with James Patterson in pole position for the sixth year in a row.

Seventeen of the top 20 most borrowed adult fiction titles were by US, or US-based, crime writers; nine of them written, or co-written, by Patterson.

Patterson's 10th Anniversary was the most-borrowed title of 2012.

He and Children's Laureate Julia Donaldson were among seven authors to score over a million loans last year.

Agatha Christie was one of only six British authors in the top 20 most-borrowed adult fiction authors, alongside Katie Flynn, Josephine Cox, Alexander McCall Smith, Ian Rankin and Lee Child - although Child is based in the US.

The US-dominated list of gory thrillers is in stark contrast to the gentle British romances that held sway 30 years ago when Public Lending statistics first began in 1983.

That year, Catherine Cookson was a long-running favourite.


  1. 10th Anniversary, James Patterson & Maxine Paetro
  2. Worth Dying For, Lee Child
  3. Miracle Cure, Harlan Coben
  4. Private London, James Patterson
  5. The Help, Kathryn Stockett

The annual report by the Public Lending Right (PLR), who oversee payments to authors for the loan of their books, also revealed that library lending had dropped by around 4% in 2012, with 200 branches closing over the past year.

Bucking the trend, children's fiction remained the one area where lending figures rose, with children's books representing 37.4% of all books borrowed from public libraries.

Julia Donaldson, Jacqueline Wilson, Horrid Henry author Francesca Simon and the authors behind the Rainbow Magic series, all clocked up more than a million loans last year.

Six children's writers appeared in the top 10 most-borrowed authors across all genres, with Donaldson's The Gruffalo at number six among the most popular titles.

Mick Inkpen, Adam Blade and Jeff Kinney - of the Wimpy Kid diaries - were among the other high-performing children's authors.

Public Lending Right - funded by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) - was established in law in 1979.

All lending income goes directly to the author, with a maximum payment threshold of £6,600 for the top-lending authors.

American writer Danielle Steel is the only author to have appeared among the top 10 most borrowed adult fiction authors every year for the past three decades.

The 65-year-old is believed to have sold more than 600 million copies of her 80 novels.

"Danielle writes very feelingly and honestly about the kind of issues real women face," said Steel's UK editor, Catherine Cobain of Transworld. "She can also be very funny."

"It is fantastic to see such support for Danielle and for her wonderful books to gain such recognition from the library reading community."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    Some people are so snobbish when it comes to books. My reading choices depend entirely on my mood at any given time - I may re-read the entire Twilight series, or pick up a dog-eared copy of Austen or Dickens from the shelf. Sometimes I'm in the mood for 'high brow', other times something easy to digest. My TV or radio choices are similar. Surely anything that encourages reading is a good thing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    13. Little Welsh Dragon

    As it was only me who has used the term "lowest common denominator", I can only assume it is me to whom you are referring. However, if you read my post again, you will see I was not criticising anyone for their reading choice, simply expressing my own preference. Please don't attribute views to me that I have not expressed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    54 Minutes ago
    Well at least it is someone other than a certain E L James......


    I've not read her work, but from want what I've heard it's not the kind of book where you'd want to be the 100th person in line to read the same copy...

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    At least we still have libraries from where we can borrow books, and at least people are still interested enough to use them. They're reading something rather than staring at a TV screen.

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    Absolutely, I was more thinking of the people who suggest that the books are "low brow" and cater for the "lowest common denominator" and criticise others for their choice of reading material as opposed to those who simply express their opinion.

    Personal opinions and reviews are great it helps me choose new books and authors that I may not have considered previously.

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    I went to my library with a list of books I wanted to read. Not one was on the system for the whole region. I despair at the amount of shelf space given to a few currently popular authors. The worst "genre" by far is the endless number of non-entity biographies. I'm not surprised library use is going down. Only the childrens books show imagination. Can I upgrade.

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    Littlewelshdragon. It's not snobbery, it's personal taste. Surely we are allowed to express our taste in books both good and bad

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    I'm not a big fan of Patterson's work, but I do love a good book. I'm glad libraries are still around. Libraries are a great thing even if fewer people appreciate them like they used to.

    Still wondering why this is a HYS item though...

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    If Patterson "co-writes" the books are usually poor but the co-author is clearly noted on the book. When he writes on his own they are much better, however, to all the literary snobs out there no-one ever claimed this was literature it is pure escapism nothing more nothing less and quite frankly any reading is better than no reading so read what you like everyone.

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    'James Patterson tops library lending chart'

    Shouldn't that be Patterson & his ghost writters top library lending chart.

    These days Patterson seems to scetvh an idea for a plot onto the back of a beer mat then hand it to someone else who writes the book, then he sits back & watches the money roll in.

    Thats not libel by the way, its been well documented.

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    James Patterson books seem to be written for children; very big writing, short paragraphs and simplistic writing. I have read a couple, but never again. The best of the crime genre in my opinion, are the Harry Bosch books by Michael Connelly. They've lost it's way in recent years, but the first 10 or so were excellent

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    I'm sure Patterson is the number one name but I'm not convinced he writes all the books. James Patterson with him and James Patterson with her. There is a whole block in the book department which are James Patterson and ...............
    However, I'm sure he does very well out of it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    Our small local library in Powys provides a great service - open 4.5 days a week, friendly faces, helpful service. I can reserve and renew online too. Libraries are great places for trying out new authors (I'm not into crime writing but might try a few names on this list!). If I don't get on with a book I can simply return it without cost. Long live our libraries!

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    Well at least it is someone other than a certain E L James......

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    In general, I find the more people who like something, the more "lowest common denominator" comes into play, meaning it's usually rubbish. This is true of fiction, films, and music, and extends into other areas, even fashion and art. Call me a snob if you like, but give me quality over quantity every time.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    Makes sense to borrow whodunits - you only want to read them once!

    Purchase books you want to read over and over again.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    Amazing considering the absolute tosh he writes.
    I tried reading a book of his recently and there were so many spelling errors and lack of continuity in the first 2 chapters I gave up on it.
    I emailed his web site outlining these mistakes and never got a reply.
    He is only interested in the money now. Poor bloke.


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