Bookplanet: writers CAN get rich
Not many do, but a few really coin it. For example: The latest annual sales figures from Nielsen BookScan reveal why so many authors are taking up writing for children. The top five authors in England, according to the amount of money their work made in 2004, were Jacqueline Wilson (£8,347,573), J.K. Rowling (£5,392,239), Julia Donaldson, creator of The Gruffalo - (£4,797,459), Lemony Snicket (£4,633,296) and Philip Pullman (£3,964,892). The year's best-selling hardback book for children was The Beano Annual, which sold 260,211 copies, whereas the paperback of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix sold 329,826 copies. Meanwhile, on a much greater scale, Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code has just been reprinted for the 82nd time in America. There are now 29 million copies of the thriller in print in 44 languages around the world. Then there are a further million copies of the Special Illustrated Edition and 500,000 copies of the audio version. Sony Pictures have paid $6 million for the film rights and cast Tom Hanks in the leading role. Four years ago Mr Brown's agents couldn't even give the film rights away. Such impressive sales figures nevertheless pale into insignificance when compared with those of Dr D.G. Hessayon's The House Plant Expert. This bible of the indoor gardener has sold nearly 48 million copies worldwide since it was first published in 1960. A sequel, rather unimaginatively titled, The House Plant Expert: Book Two, will be published by Transworld next month. It contains details of more than 200 new plants, whose names - zelkova, vriesia and tweedia, among them - should broaden the book's readership to take in Scrabble players as well as dibble users.