The Kama Sutra is not the UK’s most popular book

5 March 2020
What was claimed

The UK’s most popular book is The Modern Kama Sutra.

Our verdict

This is wrong and based on data from one online marketplace. Other bestseller compilations from Amazon and Nielsen do not include the Modern Kama Sutra.

“Sex guide Kama Sutra tops list of UK’s most popular books”

The Daily Star, 3 March 2020

The most popular book in the UK is not The Modern Kama Sutra. This is based on data gathered by online retailer OnBuy, based only on its own sales over the past three years.

Neither the 50 best-selling books on Amazon UK, nor the 50 top-selling books in the UK, based on sales figures compiled by Nielsen Bookscan and published by the Guardian include the Kama Sutra at any point in the last three years.

The book at the top of OnBuy’s list is inspired by the original Kama Sutra, an ancient Indian book about relationships, sexuality and marriage, which is best known for its advice on sexual positions.

Of the top 10 most popular books compiled by OnBuy—which includes A Game of Thrones and Scratch & Sniff Book of Weed—the only books to appear in the top 50 lists at any point in the last three years were:

  • George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-four, ranked at number six by OnBuy but at number 49 in 2017 by Amazon.
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, ranked at number two by OnBuy but at number 40 (as part of a Harry Potter book set) in 2017 by Amazon.

OnBuy said its list was compiled after “reviewing our internal sales data from the last three years.” According to its website, the company has more than eight million customers, although it is not clear how many of those have bought books in the last three years.

The number one best-selling books for each of the last three years are the same on both the Amazon and Nielsen’s metrics.

In 2017 this was Jamie Oliver’s cookbook 5 Ingredients, followed by Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman in 2018 and cookbook Pinch of Nom: 100 Slimming, home style recipes by Kay Featherstone and Kay Allison in 2019.

These three books do not appear on OnBuy’s list.

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