How a man with a stethoscope beat the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Confessions of a GP surprisingly beats crime thriller as biggest selling digital book of the year
  • @MrNickClark

An anonymous doctor writing under a pseudonym has beaten blockbuster authors including Stieg Larsson and David Nicholls to the top of the 2011 chart for ebooks with a debut work that has relied almost solely on word-of-mouth publicity.

Confessions of a GP, by Dr Benjamin Daniels, has been downloaded more than 100,000 times this year, and topped the digital best-sellers chart compiled by FutureBook.

The book, which was first published in August last year, has sold just 8,500 copies of its print edition. Yet the digital version, which can now be bought for as little as a pound, has been a runaway success.

Scott Pack of The Friday Project, the book's publisher and an arm of HarperCollins, said he was "over the moon" about the book's success. He conceded much of the book's success could be explained by aggressive pricing: "We don't have any superstar authors so we deliberately price our ebooks lower than those like the Stieg Larsson books."

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson was the second-most downloaded book of the year. Its publisher, Quercus, expects a bump after the Boxing Day release of the Hollywood adaptation starring Daniel Craig.

The third-most popular ebook of the year was The Basement by Stephen Leather and published by the author. Mr Leather's Hard Landing, which is published by Hodder & Stoughton, was the next most popular book of the year. Mr Pack said there had been a "gold rush" last Christmas as people filled up their new Kindles with cheap books. Most of the titles in the top 50, he pointed out, were thrillers. The list was still dominated by traditional publishing houses.

One which has succeeded as an independent is Mark Edwards, who wrote the 49th-highest seller this year with Catch Your Death, with Louise Voss. He said: "We didn't get anywhere for years but the Kindle gave us a new lease of life." They subsequently landed a publishing deal with HarperCollins.

As for the so-called Dr Daniels, "we are keen for him to do a second volume," Mr Pack said. "But he is pretty busy with his day job."

Digital hits: The ebook top ten

1. Confessions of a GP

A humorous take on life as a family GP written by a real doctor using the pseudonym Benjamin Daniels.

2. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

First in Stieg Larsson's trilogy; a journalist teams up with a hacker to solve a murder.

3. The Basement

Stephen Leather's self-published thriller puts two detectives on the track of a serial killer.

4. Hard Landing

Detective Dan Shepherd faces his toughest job as a drug baron kills off witnesses in another by Leather.

5. One Day

Popular tale by David Nicholls of the lives of Dex and Emma each St Swithin's day.

6. The Girl who Kicked the Hornet's Nest

The conclusion to Larsson's series finds Lisbeth Salander fighting for her life.

7. The Girl who Played with Fire

The second in the Larsson trilogy finds the lead fighting to clear her name of double murder.

8. A Game of Thrones

The first in a series of fantasy novels by George R R Martin and adapted into a recent TV series.

9. Room

The novel by Emma Donoghue was inspired by the Fritzl case as a young woman is abused in a room for seven years

10. The Hanging Shed

An ex-policeman returns home to Glasgow to help clear the name of a friend accused of murder