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Keano outkicks BOD with €5m Christmas book sales

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Roy Keane at the launch of 'The Second Half'

Roy Keane at the launch of 'The Second Half'

Brian O'Driscoll came second in the race for the year's bestselling sports memoir

Brian O'Driscoll came second in the race for the year's bestselling sports memoir

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Roy Keane at the launch of 'The Second Half'

It was hyped up as the battle of the sports books for Christmas 2014. Roy Keane's The Second Half and Brian O'Driscoll's The Test were head to head in the bestseller charts in Ireland since they both appeared in October. The big question was, who would come out on top in total sales by the time the Christmas book-buying rush was over?

It was looking good for BOD because his book was No 1 in the chart from early in December. This continued in Christmas week when BOD's book was the big winner, heavily outscoring the Keano book.

The Nielsen Bookscan figures for the Republic of Ireland for the week ending December 27 show that BOD sold 10,690 copies here that week, against Keano's 6,976 copies. The two books were respectively No 1 and No 2 in Christmas week.

But adding up the total sales figures since both books appeared in October tells a slightly different story. This reveals that by December 27, BOD's book had sold 53,879 copies in Ireland, but Keano's book had shifted 54,764 copies. So by December 27, at the end of Christmas week, Keano had won the total sales race in Ireland by a short head - 885 copies.

Brian O'Driscoll's book was published on October 23, with Roy Keane's book appearing two weeks earlier on October 9.

That two-week advantage is unlikely to have affected Keano's total sales. What was a big factor, however, was the huge furore over the leaking of some copies of the Keane book to the media in the days before it was published, generating huge publicity both here and in the UK. The result was that in the first three days after its launch, Keano's book sold a massive 10,742 copies in Irish bookstores. BOD's book was playing catch-up since then.

That said, neither Brian O'Driscoll nor Roy Keane will be crying - unless it's all the way to the bank. BOD's book sold 20,842 copies worth €416,632 in Ireland in the two weeks ending on Saturday, December 27. His total sales of 53,879 copies in Ireland since the book appeared in October add up to just over €1.02m. Roy Keane's total sales in Ireland up to December 27 of 54,764 copies were worth just under €1.04m. Both figures are based on an average discounted sale price of €18.99 which was charged by most bookshops.

That is only part of the financial story of the two books, however. The Irish market is just a fraction of the much bigger UK market where both books were also bestsellers in the last 10 weeks. So revenue from the UK was a multiple of what the books have earned here.

The Nielsen Bookscan figures for the UK show that by December 27, the Roy Keane book had sold a total of 188,587 copies in Britain. This was far more than the UK figures for the Brian O'Driscoll book, which sold a total of 53,431 in Britain up to December 27.

Although both books were published at £20 in the UK, there was some discounting with a sale price in many bookshops of £18.99. This meant that the Roy Keane book had total sales in Britain of roughly £3.39m (or over €4.3m) from publication to December 27.

Adding that to the sales in Ireland gives Keano total sales, comfortably, of over €5m.

Brian O'Driscoll's total sales in the UK of 53,431 were worth £1.01m (or roughly €1.3m). Adding that to his sales in Ireland gives BOD total sales of just over €2.3m.

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So, with Keano shifting more than €5m in books between the UK and Ireland, he certainly outkicked BOD in the Christmas book sales race.

The story does not end there, however. Although the Nielsen figures do cover print sales through Amazon, they don't include eBook sales for readers, like the Kindle, which will be significant. They also do not include extract rights and sales in other languages and English language markets outside the UK and Ireland.

And on top of all that, both books will be coming out in paperback editions in summer 2015, which will give another big boost to the revenue they are generating.


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