May 19, 2022

New Report: “How The Nobel Prize In Literature Affects Book Sales”

A new report from Booknet Canada that might be of interest to some of you. It looks at sales of books by Alice Munro after she was awarded the Noble Prize for Literature in October.

From BookNet Canada:

Winning the Nobel Prize in Literature resulted in a significant increase in Alice Munro’s book sales not just in Canada, but also internationally, according to a study released today by BookNet Canada. Alice Munro, at Home and Abroad: How the Nobel Prize in Literature Affects Book Sales compares sales data for Alice Munro’s titles in ten countries, before and after her Nobel Prize in Literature win. The Canadian sales data was provided by BookNet Canada; Nielsen Book contributed figures for Australia, India, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, South Africa, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Not surprisingly, the increase in sales for Alice Munro’s titles was most pronounced in Canada: when comparing sales in the week ending September 21, 2013, to the week ending October 19 (the week after the win on Oct. 10), her sales increased by 4424%. This increase was probably helped by high stock availability: the paperback edition of her latest book, Dear Life, came out in North America on Oct. 8, two days before the Nobel Prize announcement on Oct. 10. “Since Dear Life was coming out that week, bookstores in Canada had ample stock on hand,” says Pamela Millar, BookNet’s Director of Customer Relations. “Therefore, they were better positioned to meet the increased demand for Munro titles when her Nobel Prize win was announced.”

Interestingly, translations of Alice Munro titles also performed well. In Italy, sales of translated Munro titles increased by 4213%, and in Spain, they increased by 1890% (comparing the week ending September 21, 2013 to the week ending October 19). In the same period, sales of English-language Munro titles outside of Canada increased by anywhere from 369% (Australia) to 2625% (Ireland). In several cases, sales increased even more significantly by the week ending October 26, a lag that may be explained by retailers rushing to increase their stock to meet demand.

BookNet has studied the effect of award wins on Canadian book sales since 2006. Generally, awards increase book sales. For example, between 2006–2012 (but excluding 2010 due to a stock-related anomaly), the average spike in sales for a Giller-winning title was 543% (when comparing sales the week before vs. after the win). In Canada, BookNet studies have shown that the Giller Prize and the Canada Reads awards have the biggest impact on book sales.

Read the Full Text Report: Alice Munro, at Home and Abroad: How the Nobel Prize in Literature Affects Book Sales (13 pages; PDF)

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.