Publicly available Australian data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) do not allow much elaboration on the subject areas being published. The ABS data is only broken down by fiction, childrens, non-fiction and educational. Bookscan information is more specific, but only available to subscribers. Non-fiction outsells fiction. Australian fiction makes up around 10% of the market in revenue terms.
The Australian Publishers Association (APA) compiles a list of bestsellers each year in the categories of adult hardbacks; adult trade paperbacks; adult mass-market paperbacks; children’s hardbacks; and children’s paperbacks. Only sales at retail outlets at standard publisher discounts and where the author gets a full royalty are included.
Books by Australian authors sell well. The APA survey in the year up to 30 March 2004 showed the adult hardback Brother Fish by Bryce Courtenay (Pearson/Penguin) sold more than 250,000 copies at an RRP of $49.95, topping that category; the adult trade paperback The Reef by Di Morrissey sold over 105,000 copies at an RRP of $30, topping that category; and the mass market adult paperback Friends to the End by Bradley Trevor Grieve sold more 50,000 copies at a RRP of $14.95, coming in at No. 11 in that category well behind Dan Brown whose books filled the first four positions in this category.
In a year when a new Harry Potter book is published (such as 2007), that book dominates the sales charts. In 2006, Kate Grenville's The Secret River (Text) sold well, helped by its inclusion in the Books Alive campaign. A big seller in 2005-06 was Li Cunxin's Mao's Last Dancer (Pearson/Viking).
In 2003-04, publishers and other major contributors based in New South Wales or Victoria accounted for 94% of total book sales (51% NSW; 43% in Victoria).