By Daniel Hunter

Research from Nielsen BookScan has revealed that sales of printed books fell by almost £74 million in the UK last year.

Readers spent a total of £1.514 billion on physical books in 2012, which represents a 4.6% decrease from 2011.

The rate of decline slowed slightly, principally because of EL James' Fifty Shades trilogy, which accounted for one in every 20 books bought last year.

There was a 5% increase in the e-book market from 2011, but the value of the entire book market shrank because of heavy discounting of digital titles - with many bestsellers retailing for less than a pound.

Data collected on the sales of physical books records around 90-95% of all consumer sales in the UK, but is less robust for the e-book market.

However, Philip Stone from Bookseller said figures from Nielsen/Kantar show: "In essence, people are buying more books but they are paying less for them."

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