The good, the bad and the darn right obscure

Anyone who reads these posts regularly will know I am somewhat obsessed with data on the book buying habits of Australians. My obsession is fuelled by the fact that American and British readers and writers get regular public feedback on varying kinds of genres (fiction, non-fiction, biography, romance, crime, sci-fi, etc) and more often than not, at least a smattering of sales data to go with it.

The good news – Books+Publishing has started printing Australia’s full weekly top 10 and fastest moving titles instead of just commenting on or two random titles. Their information comes from Nielsen and we now know that there data comes from 1,000 retailers nationwide.

The bad news – there are still no figures attached.

The darn right obscure – Publishers Weekly (PW) in the US has started publishing a weekly chart of the top ten bestsellers in Australia, New Zealand and the UK, also based on Nielsen data. Nielsen is, after all, a global company. But guess what? The two top ten lists do NOT match. There are only four books common to both lists and only one in the same position – Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare at #2. The other common titles are The 8-Week Blood Sugar Diet (Michael Mosley); All the Light We Cannot See (Anthony Doerr); and The Road to Ruin (Niki Savva).Both lists also include fiction, non-fiction and children’s books. However,  a further difference is that the PW list gives a year-to-date sales figure.

You can compare the two lists here:Top Ten comparison

If you can make sense of the differences, or have any insights about how bestseller lists are compiled, we’d love to hear from you.



First Kiss Results are in!

Congratulations to the winner and placegetters in our First Kiss contest, as judged by Meghan Farrell of Tule Publishing:

1st   Michelle Skidmore

2nd   Sue Knight

3rd   Marianne Bankovic

Thanks again to Meghan, to all our volunteer judges for their time and effort, and to the contest manager, Tricia Sargant, who is new to the role this year and did a fantastic job. And congratulations to all our members who entered their fabulous stories.

May new releases

The cooler temperatures of Autumn have finally arrived – better late than never. If you’re looking for a new book to curl up with indoors to enjoy a bit of ‘me time’, there’s no better place to start than with this month’s new releases from our members. There are so many I have been looking forward to across several sub genres. In historical romance, there is The Wife’s Tale by Christine Wells (who also rights under Christina Brooke), The Master of Strathburne by Amy Rose Bennett and Shrouded Passions by new-to-me author Faye Hall. There’s also a new sci-fi from Valerie Parv, Earthbound,  new rural romances from Trish Morey, Kerrie Paterson and Jenn McLeod, romantic suspense and a feast of contemporary romance titles covering everything and everyone from female jockeys to rock stars, doctors, cowboys and highlanders. Is there a particular new release that has your finger depressing the one-click button?

New releases May 2016

E-reading: a technology trend driven by older, not younger, readers

A just-released report from Kobo has added detail to the 2015 finding by Nielsen UK that older women are relatively heavy ebook purchasers. As reported in The Guardian, Kobo said this makes e-reading “the first technological revolution being driven by [those aged] 45 and older, rather than younger generations”. Some 16% of Kobo’s customers buy an ebook almost everyday.

The Kobo study suggests that women account for 75% of the most active e-readers – spending at least 30 minutes a day reading.  They overwhelmingly prefer romance novels, with the category accounting for more than twice the number of unit sales as general fiction, the second most popular category. Mystery novels came in third. While women accounted for the largest group of active digital readers, older men also made up a significant proportion of the group. While men aged between 18 to 34 account for only 13% of active digital readers, men over 65 represent 34% of Kobo’s most enthusiastic readers.

“As one gets older there are a number of benefits in e-reading,” said Michael Tamblyn, Kobo chief executive. “It’s nice to be able to make the font larger, or not have to travel to the bookshop to find your next book.”

He added that digital shops own the lion’s share of romance sales. ‘It’s quite difficult for a bricks and mortar store to stock the range and selection these passionate readers want, as they can’t devote the space to it. So these customers have come much more quickly to digital.”

When combined with the Nielsen UK data that found older women also account for 32% of borrowings from UK Companions, book and e-bookpublic libraries, it is clear that women over the age of 45 “ are the engine that powers the [book] industry,”  Tamblyn said. “The industry has intuitively known this, but we wanted to shine a light on it.”

Kobo’s report is based on data from its own customers as well as a survey of 16,000 readers using both Kobo e-readers and competing devices. It confirmed that prolific readers buy and read both print and digital books, reading on average two print books a month and buying 16 print books as well as 60 ebooks a year.


Ripping Start Finalists

It is with great pleasure that we announce (in alphabetical order) the finalists in the Ripping Start competition.

Congratulations and best of luck to:

Alexa Bravo

AJ Blythe

AJ Macpherson

Jo McAlister

Cassandra Pennington

Samantha West

The finalists’ entries will now go to the final judge, Deb Werksman, Editorial Director, Sourcebooks Casablanca.

Thanks, as always, to our volunteer judges and a huge thank you to Erica Hayes, who stepped in and did an enormous amount of unexpected work on this contest.

New Sylvia Day romance tops Australian bestseller lists

One with YouWoo hoo! One with You, Sylvia Day’s conclusion to her Crossfire series, entered the Australian bestseller charts* as highest new entry AND #1 on the overall bestseller lists. Lovely to see a romance novel indisputably top the charts.

The Crossfire series is a quintet that follows the emotional and romantic journey taken by Gideon Cross and Eva Tramell. A #1 internationally bestselling series, the Crossfire books are available in forty territories… and counting. Last year, Sylvia Day thrilled Australian readers when she visited our shores for the second time as a guest of the Australian Romance Readers Association.

*Nielsen Bookscan figures released 18 April for week of 9 April.

Emerald Finalists

We are delighted to announce the finalists in this year’s Emerald Award.

The Emerald is our annual award for RWA members who are unpublished in fiction over 10k words.  It is unique among our contests in that it requires the submission of a full manuscript (for those who make it to the second round).  So these three people have made it through two rounds and a lot of volunteer reading by dedicated romance readers to get to this stage.

So without further ado, let us congratulate (in alphabetical order):

Laura Boon

Suzanne Cass

Frances dall’Alba

The finalists’ entries will now go to the final judge, Sue Brockhoff, Head of Publishing, Harlequin Australia.  The placings will be announced at the awards dinner at our conference in August.

Thanks to our contest manager, judges co-ordinator, volunteer judges and all the fabulous RWA volunteers who make our contest season happen.

April New Releases

I hope everybody enjoyed the Easter long weekend and reading some extra books while enjoying their chocolate. Don’t the two make a fabulous combination?  Books and chocolate,  chocolate and books … it really does’t matter which way you mix them.

Chocolate levels may have returned to normal, but happily we have some fabulous new releases available this month from our members so there is no need to limit your book rations. Mix and match as much as you wish to. Happy reading everyone.


Valerie Parv Award opening soon

All Aspiring and Emerging RWA members are invited to enter the Valerie Parv Award contest which opens on 8 April. For more information and to enter, go to

VPA promo pic

First Kiss Finalists

Pucker up!  The RWA First Kiss competition has found six finalists who give great smooch – on the page, anyway…

Congratulations to our 2016 First Kiss finalists:

Marianne Bankovic

Kat Colmer

Antoinette Hodge

Sue Knight

Samara Parish

Michelle Skidmore.

The finalist entries will be read by our fabulous final judge, Meghan Farrell of Tule Publishing.

Congratulations to all our entrants, and thanks as always to our hardworking volunteer judges and the contest manager, Tricia Sargant.

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