Revealed for the first time: The UK’s most borrowed e-books - The Leamington Observer

Revealed for the first time: The UK’s most borrowed e-books

Leamington Editorial 15th Jul, 2020   0

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman has been revealed as last year’s most borrowed e-book from libraries in the UK. Sally Rooney’s Normal People, Circe by Madeleine Miller and Adam Kay’s This is Going to Hurt were also among the Top 10.

This is according to the latest figures on public library borrowing compiled and released by Public Lending Right.

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 released data for the period covering July 2018 – June 2019  including figures on e-book borrowing as well as print books, audiobooks and regional borrowing.

The release coincided with a remarkable surge in e-book borrowing from public libraries during the Covid-19 pandemic. Libraries Connected 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.

Culture Minister Caroline Dinenage says: “It is brilliant that, thanks to digital services, so many people can still engage with their local library and enjoy the nation’s most popular titles. E-books are a fantastic way to entertain and educate, especially as we spend more time at home.” 

Tom Holland, Chair of the PLR Advisory Committee adds: “If PLR is to stay the same – to paraphrase Lampedusa’s famous quip – then it has to change. This year’s figures show just how successfully it is achieving this. As it ever does, it is disbursing funds to a wide range of authors and contributors, and ensuring that they are properly remunerated for the borrowing of their books from libraries. Equally, the fact that the first payments for the remote loans of e-books were made this year demonstrate that PLR is swimming with the fast moving currents of the times. An unchanging mission, fuelled by a readiness to change.”

For more information on the borrowing figures as well as the regional figures, visit

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




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