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Jamie Oliver bests J.K. Rowling in British bestseller race

December 11, 2012|By Carolyn Kellogg
  • Jamie Oliver, left, at a December events in London. J.K. Rowling at her October appearance in New York.
Jamie Oliver, left, at a December events in London. J.K. Rowling at her October… (Joel Ryan / Invision/AP…)

Boyish chef Jamie Oliver moved past Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling on British bestseller lists this week, the Guardian reports. Their books were released on the same day, Sept. 27.

Oliver has penned a cookbook, "15 Minute Meals." His cookbooks are perennially popular, landing at or near the top of British bestseller lists.

While Rowling is also a bestseller, her novel released this year was not guaranteed to be a hit. She left Harry Potter behind and penned her first book for adults, "The Casual Vacancy."

"The Casual Vacancy" sold 124,603 copies in England its first week -- more than 100,000 more books than Oliver's "15 Minute Meals." But while Rowling's sales have dropped off, Oliver's have steadily climbed.

"It's inevitable that he would beat J.K. Rowling," said Jon Howells of England's largest bookstore chain, Waterstone's. "Traditionally she sells masses in the first day, the first week, the first month, and then she will still sell well but it slows down. With Jamie Oliver, though, he'll be slow at the start and continue to build. People don't rush out to buy the new Jamie the first week of release – he builds more gradually and it becomes a landslide."

To date, "15 Minute Meals" has sold 373,943 copies in England to "The Casual Vacancy"'s 316,690. In the U.S., "The Casual Vacancy" has sold more -- 453,804 copies -- and its major competition comes not from Oliver but from E.L. James. Her trilogy -- "Fifty Shades of Grey, "Fifty Shades Darker" and "Fifty Shades Freed" -- has sold a total of more than 13 million books. 

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