EVEN in the depths of a recession, sex still sells. Despite a downturn in the Irish book market, erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey has sold almost as many copies in its first four months as the acclaimed Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows did.
Irish book sales have fallen by more than 11 per cent over the past year, according to the latest figures from Nielsen Bookscan. However, Fifty Shades of Grey appears to have bucked the downturn -- about 111,300 copies of the novel have been sold in Ireland since it was published here in April.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, which saw people queuing outside bookshops overnight to get a copy of the fantasy novel when it was released in July 2007, sold 140,000 copies in Ireland in its first four months, according to Nielsen.
Fifty Shades of Grey is the first of the trilogy from British author EL James. The others, Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed, have not sold as well -- between them they have shifted 103,108 copies since they were published last April.
Children's books have bucked the downturn, with sales over the past year up about 1 per cent to €9.2m.
American TV writer and author Suzanne Collins has been a big hit with Irish kids. Her novel, Hunger Games, which tells the story of a girl who takes her younger sister's place in a televised battle to the death, was the most popular children's book in Ireland over the past year, Nielsen Bookscan said.
Non-fiction books were hit most by the downswing in the Irish market, with 15 per cent fewer sales over the past year.
"The economic climate is the likely cause of the decline," said Nielsen Bookscan analyst Russell Bremner.