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 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 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 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.


More Entertainment & Arts stories


Features & Analysis

Elsewhere on the BBC


  • Former al-Qaeda double agent Aimen DeanHARDtalk Watch

    Islamic State is about revenge says former al-Qaeda member turned spy Aimen Dean

Try our new site and tell us what you think. Learn more
Take me there

Copyright © 2015 BBC. 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.