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17 January 2023

Prince Harry’s Spare breaks UK non-fiction book sales records

The memoir appears to have beaten growing “Harry fatigue”.

By Ellen Peirson-Hagger

Prince Harry’s memoir, Spare, is the UK’s fastest-selling non-fiction book since records began. The autobiography, which details the prince’s strained relationship with his family and which was leaked in the press before publication, has sold 467,183 paper copies in its first week, according to Nielsen BookData. The book’s publisher, Bantam, reports that Spare has sold 750,000 copies across hardback, audio and ebook.

Spare sold more than ten times the volume of the next highest selling title, the cookbook Bored of Lunch by Nathan Anthony. The previous fastest seller in Nielsen BookData’s printed book records, kept since 1998, was the original Pinch of Nom cookbook, which sold 210,506 copies in its first week in 2019.

Spare was immediately an evident hit, breaking the record for first-day non-fiction sales in the UK with 400,000 sales across hardback, ebook and audiobook formats, and including pre-orders. In the US it sold over one million copies on its first day, overtaking the record of 890,000 set by Barack Obama’s A Promised Land in 2020. 

Statistics from Nielsen BookData show that Spare has sold four times as many paper copies as the previous fastest-selling memoir, the football manager Alex Ferguson’s My Autobiography (2013). Third, now, is Tony Blair’s A Journey (2010), in which the former prime minister reflected on his role in the Iraq war and described his difficult relationship with Gordon Brown. Michelle Obama’s Becoming (2018), previously the UK’s tenth fastest-selling memoir, which sold 66,409 copies in its first week, no longer sits in the top ten.

Spare’s success comes in spite of seemingly growing “Harry fatigue”. While 12.4 million people watched Harry and Meghan’s March 2021 interview with Oprah Winfrey on ITV and the couple’s Netflix docuseries was the UK’s most watched subscription TV series of 2022, Harry’s interview with Tom Bradby in January peaked at 4.6 million viewers: beaten by the 5.3 million who tuned into the BBC’s Happy Valley the same day.

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Sales of Spare have been helped by aggressive marketing campaigns, with the book available for half its retail price – £14 rather than £28 – at Waterstones and Amazon.

[See also: What Prince Harry's Spare reveals about the savagery of monarchy]

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