Entertainment & Arts

James Patterson tops library lending chart

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

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.

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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