UK’s most borrowed ebooks revealed for the first time by PLR

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman has been revealed as the UK’s most borrowed ebook of 2018–19, with Sally Rooney’s Normal People, Circe by Madeleine Miller and Adam Kay’s This is Going to Hurt also among the Top 10, according to the latest figures on public library borrowing compiled and released by Public Lending Right (PLR).

Administered by the British Library, the PLR scheme gives authors and other contributors the legal right to payment from the Government each time their books are borrowed from a UK public library.

For the first time, the annual public library loans data – covering the period between July 2018–June 2019 – includes figures on ebook borrowing as well as print books, audiobooks and regional borrowing. ALCS campaigned tirelessly, along with the Society of Authors, to have PLR extended to e-lending of books, which successfully concluded in 2017. The release coincides with a remarkable surge in ebook borrowing from public libraries as physical spaces remain closed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Libraries Connected last month estimated a 358% increase in the number of people borrowing ebooks during the first three weeks of lockdown in England.

Culture Minister, Caroline Dinenage, said: “It is brilliant that, thanks to digital services, so many people can still engage with their local library and enjoy the nation’s most popular titles. E-books are a fantastic way to entertain and educate, especially as we spend more time at home.”

Tom Holland, Chair of the PLR Advisory Committee, said: “If PLR is to stay the same – to paraphrase Lampedusa’s famous quip – then it has to change. This year’s figures show just how successfully it is achieving this. As it ever does, it is disbursing funds to a wide range of authors and contributors, and ensuring that they are properly remunerated for the borrowing of their books from libraries. Equally, the fact that the first payments for the remote loans of ebooks were made this year demonstrate, that PLR is swimming with the fast-moving currents of the times. An unchanging mission, fuelled by a readiness to change.”

For more information on the 2018–19 borrowing figures as well as the regional figures, read the full press release.

Don’t forget: the deadline for registering your own titles for UK PLR is 30 June 2020. Visit to add them to your account.

Top 10 most borrowed authors (2017–18 ranking in brackets)

  1. James Patterson (1)
  2. Daisy Meadows (2)
  3. Julia Donaldson (3)
  4. Lee Child (10)
  5. Francesca Simon (4)
  6. David Walliams (8)
  7. MC Beaton (7)
  8. Adam Blade (5)
  9. Roald Dahl (6)
  10. Danielle Steel (11)

Top 10 most borrowed ebooks

  1. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
  2. The Midnight Line: (Jack Reacher 22) by Lee Child
  3. This Is Going To Hurt by Adam Kay
  4. Circe by Madeline Miller
  5. Origin by Dan Brown
  6. Still Me by Jojo Moyes
  7. Into the Water by Paula Hawkins
  8. Normal People by Sally Rooney
  9. Blood Road by Stuart MacBride
  10. Killing Floor: (Jack Reacher 1) by Lee Child

Top 10 most borrowed children’s authors

  1. Daisy Meadows (1)
  2. Julia Donaldson (2)
  3. Francesca Simon (3)
  4. David Walliams (6)
  5. Adam Blade (4)
  6. Roald Dahl (5)
  7. Jeff Kinney (9)
  8. Jacqueline Wilson (8)
  9. Liz Pichon (15)
  10. JK Rowling