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Surprise bestsellers for the silly season

31 August 2015

It's the colouring books and a self-published sleep aid which are making the headlines and topping the charts as summer moves in to autumn in the northern hemisphere - not that those of us in the UK feel we've had much summer.

Last week at the Beijing Book Fair, which had a record number of exhibitors, publishers seemed calm in the midst of the turmoil on the world's stock markets, which was originating in China. Laurence King Publishing's adult colouring book Secret Garden by Johanna Basford has sold an amazing 3 million copies in China since the book was published there on 1st June of this year, out of a global total of 6.8m.
The South East Asian region has produced the highest sales figures of Secret Garden. Sales in Korea have reached 500,000 copies and sales in Japan have reached 190,000 copies. Basford's second title, Enchanted Forest (also published by Laurence King Publishing) has also sold over 2 million copies worldwide.

But are these books, in the sense we might use the word? Perhaps not, but they are certainly providing a big boost for the publishers and the book trade.

Another new bestseller is Swedish psychologist Ehrlin's picture book, which is undoubtedly the surprise hit of the year so far. The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep was produced on Amazon's self-publishing CreateSpace platform a year and a half ago. It has been generating phenomenal word of mouth in the last few weeks for its promise of salvation for weary parents trying to cajole their children to sleep. It sold 18,585 copies last week in the UK alone. Not everyone approves of it and a Guardian reviewer called its techniques for getting children to sleep sinister, terrifying and the stuff of nightmares. But there are plenty of desperate parents who will try anything to persuade their children to sleep.

So that's what these summer bestsellers are made of, but now there's Terry Pratchett's posthumous last book and James Patterson's 14th Deadly Sin, more normal fare for bestseller lists.