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  • Writer's pictureThe Publishing Post

Indie Publisher Scores Christmas Number One with Murdle

By Julia Fitzpatrick

Souvenir Press, an imprint of the independent London-based publisher Profile Books, has achieved the coveted Christmas number one position in the Nielsen BookData bestsellers chart. Murdle, a murder mystery-themed puzzle book written by G.T. Karber, overtook stiff competition from The Guinness World Record and Richard Osman to win the top spot.

Murdle was published in June by Souvenir, and has sold over 200,000 copies since its publication. The book’s success can be attributed to a number of factors; Murdle is based on Karber’s popular online daily puzzle website of the same name, developed in 2021. The book contains a winning combination of two popular genres: puzzle books, which are currently experiencing a renaissance with the highest sales figures since 2005, and crime fiction. Phillip Stone, an analyst at Nielsen BookData, explained that “crime pays in the UK book market:” in 2023 alone, £125 million was spent on crime novels while an additional five million was spent on true-crime books. Murdle has an original twist on the crime genre, with 100 challenges inviting readers to use clues, codes, and maps to solve a murder mystery by uncovering the killers, their weapons, and their motives. The book sat consistently in the top ten of the bestseller charts for the first few months of its publication.

Murdle’s popularity blew up in December, after being named Waterstone’s Gift of the Year. Almost a third of the book’s sales were in December, selling 52,549 copies in the week ending 16 December. Karber’s success has lasted into the New Year, remaining at number one for three consecutive weeks. Karber is only the third non-British author to ever claim the prestigious Christmas number one spot, now sitting in the company of Michelle Obama and Dan Brown. He said that his “greatest hope is that this little book brings people together over the holidays, and lets them share some joy with each other.” Murdle’s sequel, More Killer Puzzles, was published in October and has since sold over 21,000 copies. A third book, Murdle: Even More Killer Puzzles, will be published in May 2024.

Guinness World Records 2024 took the second spot on Nielsen’s Christmas bestseller chart, while Richard Osman’s The Last Devil to Die came in third. Alice Oseman’s Heartstopper Volume 5 was the fourth bestselling book overall, and the top children’s bestseller, making it Britain’s fastest-selling graphic novel.



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