James Patterson tops library lending chart

James Patterson Patterson's fictional detective Alex Cross has enjoyed big screen success

Related Stories

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."


More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 37.

    I used to love James Patterson, but the formulaic writing and all these endless collaborations put me right off. I hope that one day, the best of the Brits in the genre, ie Mo Hayder, Mark Billingham trounce the US writers in the lists. But the ultimate important thing? Keep reading everyone!

  • rate this

    Comment number 36.

    @12 Alba Al Yeah, it's not great when the books you want to read aren't available. I tried to take out the Aeneid last year but there was a waiting list and it was 6 weeks before I got the county's only copy. The AENEID! Problem is lack of funding. I've donated books before - not my favourites, I keep those, but those that don't fit on my shelves. One way to increase a library's catalogue.

  • rate this

    Comment number 35.

    Get a room the pair of you.


  • rate this

    Comment number 34.

    29. Little Welsh Dragon

    "Get over it"? No, you didn't mention my name, but you directly quoted a phrase I used, so it's obvious you meant me. But you seem to think I'm more upset than I actually am, which once again indicates you're just reading far too much into what I actually said.

    Have a cup of tea and relax...

  • rate this

    Comment number 33.

    @25 Killer Boots Man - Yes, I find it hard to find a good book. Maybe I'm too fussy, but I tend to read the first chapter of three or four books before I find one I want to keep reading. Try harder for authors I see around in online forums. Mostly been reading non-fiction recently (easier to find good stuff) - recommend Neil Oliver's History of Ancient Britain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 32.

    I've never read him but I'm glad that it isn't chick-lit. Or vampires.

  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    It is good people are reading. Unfortunately in the current economic climate my local library has cut its book fund and now buys far less of the fantasy novels I enjoy. I now use a Kindle as I can obtain stuff I want to read. Must agree that Patterson's book are a bit overrated.

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    Presumably because Pattersons books might be a good enough way to fill a few hours but they're not worth actually paying money for.

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    Oh for goodness sake get over it, I didn't mention you or criticise you I was simply trying to make the point that any thing that gets people reading is a good think and that others should not seek to judge or criticise someone elses reading choice.

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    Peter F. Hamilton is good to borrow as his hardbacks take up so much of your shelving.

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    While studying A-level English Lit at college in the early 1990s, a lecturer told us to, "Read anything and everything. It doesn't matter if it's Shakespeare, Stephen King or a magazine - just read!" One of the best pieces of advice I've ever received.

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    I'd just like to point out that MC Beaton is British. Originally Glawegian but now lives in the Cotswolds, which is the setting for her addictive Agatha Raisin series. So that makes her the most borrowed British adult fiction author on the list, but she didn't even get a mention.

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    Does anyone else have difficulty choosing a book? It's far, far more difficult than choosing a movie.

    Charts are always dominated by chic-lit or teen vampire/wolf/latest fad cloned romance novels. Online review sites top rated are usually chic-lit. Professional reviewers are often too snobbish for my tastes.

    I never know where to turn and usually read a few duds before I find a book I like.

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    There are too many book snobs around. I read for entertainment, you shouldn't have to be educated every time you read something, nor should it always be demanding.

    I read James Patterson's Alex Cross series even though their quality declined with each new book. I stopped reading his books completely when I read an article about how he now uses a team of ghost writers and has very little input.

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    Chapter 1 - Is anyone else...

    Chapter 2 - Irritated by the way...

    Chapter 3 - Patterson writes?

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    Haven't read Patterson for years. His early stuff was OK but he's basically just an industry now. If his books were published in a normal font size with single spacing they would probably only be 100 pages or so.
    Let's be honest, anyone who churns the stuff out at the rate he does is not going to a byword for literary excellence.

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    19.SpacedOne - "Patterson....I've found his novels to be predictable and dull, like the crime version of Dan Brown."

    ***SPOILER ALERT*** - I stopped reading Brown after Digital Fortress - a novel about elite code breakers with super computers - anyone who doesn't spot the villains name is an anagram is an idiot - the main characters didn't for about 100 pages.

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    I asked a young man I worked with what his fave book was.He said he does not read books but he has an E reader ap on his phone.

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    Patterson wouldn't be my first choice of crime fiction to read. I've found his novels to be predictable and dull, like the crime version of Dan Brown.

    As others have said, reading should be about whatever interests you at the time. I personally drift between good science fiction, comic fantasy, historical fiction, historical non-fiction, science texts and the occasional dark crime novel.

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.


    I may re-read the entire Twilight series, or pick up a dog-eared copy of Austen or Dickens from the shelf.


    Its the best way to be - I alternate between reading serious academic tomes on ancient history & trash sci-fi.

    Hi brow, low brow, as long as it gives you pleasure & takes you into another world its all good.


Page 2 of 3


More Entertainment & Arts stories



BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.