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'Angry men' beat Bertie on bestseller list

As a vote grabber, he was politics' answer to the block-buster -- but in the battle of the books, former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and his political allies have been left trailing in the wake of the "angry men" investigating the economy and the banks.

Forging ahead in the sales figures in book shops around the country is Sunday Independent Business Editor Shane Ross. Ross's The Bankers: How the Banks Brought Ireland to Its Knees, sold 2,009 copies last week. And reflecting the angry mood of Budget week, Fintan O'Toole's Ship of Fools sold 1,286, with Bertie Ahern coming in next with sales of 1,167.

But Bertie is not the only politician faring poorly -- Brian Cowen: In His Own Words, by Johnny Fallon and published in May, has sold just 141 copies; Brian Cowen: The Path to Power, published in 2008, has sold just 331 copies this year.

Former Taoiseach Albert Reynolds's My Autobiography sold just just 106 books last week, bringing his total sales to 2,806.

This year's book-buyers are clearly obsessed with the economy and the banking crisis.

Countrywide data from Nielsen's BookScan for the year to date up until Thursday last showed that Shane Ross's The Bankers has already moved into 12th place overall in the non-fiction category for 2009 with sales of 10,312. It is not to be mistaken for The Banksters, David Murphy and Martina Devlin's book published last May, which similarly covers our new-found fascination with financiers. It has total sales of 9,895. Bertie Ahern's autobiography hangs precariously inside the top 20 non-fiction list at number 19, with total sales of a 9,351.

The top seller in Irish bookshops in the non-fiction category is Barack Obama's, Dreams from My Father, with 27,135 sales in the Republic of Ireland.

"Bertie's book is certainly taking a bath despite heavy discounting," according to John McNamee of Eason's Portlaoise and president of the European Booksellers' Federation. In some instances, Mr Ahern's book, which has a reputed print run of a 50,000, is being discounted down from €26.30 by up to 50 per cent.

But it's far from doom and gloom for all publishers and book shops. Amid the recession the Irish public have retained their voracious appetite for reading. The surprise package of the year is Mr Tayto: The Man Inside the Jacket.

The dinky little hardback is a snip at €5.99, a masterpiece in guerrilla marketing and tops this week's all-titles bestseller list with sales of 3,199. Mr Tayto is in 10th place overall for non-fiction with a total of 10,793 sales.

Cookbooks remain as popular as ever, and among the other big sellers in non-fiction is Rachel Allen, who has two books in the top 20, Home Cooking (15,514) and Bake (10,182). The best-selling sports book so far this year is Cody: The Autobiography with total sales of 9,537. Grand Slam by Alan English is also going well, with sales this week of 1,123; Donal Og Cusack's Come What May sold 1,001; and Micheal O Muircheartaigh's GAA Odyssey moved 668 units.

In fiction this year, Sebastian Barry is way out in front, with The Secret Scripture selling 71,487 copies. Colm Toibin's Brooklyn has sales of 35,665; and Patricia Scanlon's Happy Ever After has sold 29,260. This Charming Man by Marian Keyes sold well again this year, with 26,003, after she topped the bestseller list last year with the same title on 49,295 copies for Penguin. Her latest, The Brightest Star in the Sky, has sold 20,901 so far this year.

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It has not been such a good year for Cecelia Ahern. She had three books on the bestseller list in 2008 -- Thanks for the Memories, The Gift, and PS, I Love You -- with total sales of 86,097, in stark contrast to one entry now at number 20 for The Book of Tomorrow, with sales of 13,330. The Ross O'Carroll-Kelly brand remains strong with two titles in this year's top 20 -- We Need to Talk about Ross and Rhino, What You Did Last Summer -- totalling sales of 39,465.

Overall, however, the Irish retail book sector remains remarkably buoyant despite the recession, with the latest Nielsen data valuing the fiction market here at just over €37m for 2009 with sales of 3,882,427 to date for 46,929 titles. The non-fiction figures are running at 4,630,297 book sales worth just €65m for 199,377 titles.

This compares with the 2008 total market value of €111.3m.


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