BOOKS by Charles Dickens have been flying off the shelves in libraries and shops amid the celebrations for the author’s 200th birthday.
Libraries are reporting that the borrowing of books by the Portsmouth-born literary great has doubled.
The city’s branch of Waterstones in Commercial Road said it had doubled sales of his works since January, compared with the same period last year.
Independent bookseller The Hayling Island Bookshop has shifted 50 per cent more Dickens titles – with A Christmas Carol and Great Expectations hot favourites.
The record sales and loans add to 4,000 free copies of Oliver Twist, which have been scooped up by Portsmouth schoolchildren, residents, businesses and library visitors.
At Southsea and North End libraries, all 350 free Vintage Classics editions of the classic tale have gone.
Bianca Hardingham, lead bookseller at Waterstones, Portsmouth, which has shifted hundreds of copies of Great Expectations, said: ‘This year has proved to be an outstanding year for sales.’
Lindy Elliot, Portsmouth City Council’s library services manager, who stocked up on 120 additional copies of Dickens books in anticipation of the increased interest, said: ‘Residents have been flocking to libraries to borrow books by Dickens.
‘The bicentenary has been a great opportunity for us to remind everyone that Portsmouth is the city of Dickens’ birth.’
Dan James, manager of the Southsea, Beddow and Alderman Lacey libraries, added: ‘People are constantly asking us about Dickens.
‘There is so much interest, it’s exciting. I hope it stays this way.’
This year’s landmark anniversary on February 7 put the spotlight firmly on Portsmouth, which threw its weight behind the occasion.
There were street parties, memorial services, performances, the launch of The News’ literacy campaign Read All About It and a special gala event at The New Theatre Royal which hosted several dignitaries, actor and Dickens aficionado Simon Callow as well as three generations of the Dickens family.