May 25, 2022

New Data: Annual Public Library Loans Figures Reveal the UK’s Most Borrowed E-Books for the First Time

New From Public Lending Right/British Library:

The latest annual data released today shows the most borrowed authors and books in UK public libraries during 2018-19 and includes e-books.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman has been revealed as the UK’s most borrowed e-book of 2018-19, with Sally Rooney’s Normal People, Circe by Madeleine Miller and Adam Kay’s This is Going to Hurt among the Top 10, according to the latest figures on public library borrowing compiled and released by Public Lending Right (PLR).

Administered from the British Library, the Public Lending Right scheme gives authors and other contributors the legal right to payment from the Government each time their books are borrowed from a UK public library.

For the first time, the annual public library loans data – released today for the period covering July 2018 – June 2019 – includes figures on e-book borrowing as well as print books, audiobooks and regional borrowing. The release coincides with a remarkable surge in e-book borrowing from public libraries as physical spaces remain closed during the Covid-19 pandemic. Libraries Connected last month estimated a 358% increase in the number of people borrowing e-books during the first three weeks of lockdown in England.

Continuing the trend of previous years, the list of most borrowed print titles is dominated by thrillers, with James Patterson taking the title of most borrowed author for the thirteenth year running. Children’s literature continues to feature heavily across UK print borrowing, with Roald Dahl, Julia Donaldson, Daisy Meadows, Francesca Simon and David Walliams appearing among the top ten most borrowed authors. This continues another long-term trend, highlighting the crucial and enduring role libraries play in supporting children’s literacy and sparking a lifelong love of reading.


Top 10 most borrowed authors (2017-18 ranking in brackets):

1. James Patterson (1)

2. Daisy Meadows (2)

3. Julia Donaldson (3)

4. Lee Child (10)

5. Francesca Simon (4)

6. David Walliams (8)

7. M C Beaton (7)

8. Adam Blade (5)

9. Roald Dahl (6)

10. Danielle Steel (11)

Top 10 most borrowed print titles:

1. The Midnight Line: (Jack Reacher 22) by Lee Child

2. The World’s Worst Children by David Walliams

3. NYPD Red by James Patterson

4. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

5. Past Tense: (Jack Reacher 23) by Lee Child

6. Dead if You Don’t by Peter James

7. Night School: (Jack Reacher 21) by Lee Child

8. Wild Fire by Ann Cleeves

9. Two Kinds of Truth by Michael Connelly

10. Origin by Dan Brown

Top 10 most borrowed e-books:

1. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

2. The Midnight Line: (Jack Reacher 22) by Lee Child

3. This Is GoingTo Hurt by Adam Kay

4. Circe by Madeline Miller

5. Origin by Dan Brown

6. Still Me by Jojo Moyes

7. Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

8. Normal People by Sally Rooney

9. Blood Road by Stuart MacBride

10. Killing Floor: (Jack Reacher 1) by Lee Child

Top 10 most borrowed children’s authors:

1. Daisy Meadows (1)

2. Julia Donaldson (2)

3. Francesca Simon (3)

4. David Walliams (6)

5. Adam Blade (4)

6. Roald Dahl (5)

7. Jeff Kinney (9)

8. Jacqueline Wilson (8)

9. Liz Pichon (15)

10. J K Rowling

Due to on-going development work on the PLR system, these 2018-19 releases had been deferred from the usual February publication date. The later publication of these releases has had no impact on the calculation and distribution of payments for these PLR loans which were made in February 2020

Read the Complete Announcement

See Also: Regional Variations to the List
2 pages; PDF.

Direct to Public Lending Right Website

Media Coverage

Report: “Ebook Lending Has Been Included For the First Time in UK Libraries’ Annual Tally Of Loans, and Indicates Distinct Preferences Between Media”

See Also: Digital libraries Experience a Surge in Membership Amid Lockdown (Via The Scotsman)

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.