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James Patterson is the world's top-selling author since January 2001 (with his biggest-selling title being 1st to Die), it was revealed in new lists based on print volume sales issued by publishing data experts Nielsen.

Patterson, who will be 67 on March 22, is the author of the Alex Cross detective books and has sold more than 300 million copies since his debut, The Thomas Berryman Number, was published in 1976, the first of 130 novels. His books account for one out of every 17 hardcover novels purchased in the United States.

Patterson, who last month said he was giving away nearly £1 million of his personal fortune to support local bookshops in America, also writes young adult fiction and recently wrote a special short story set in London to encourage children to read as part of World Book Day. Patterson's Middle School: How I Got Lost in London tells the story of Rafe Khatchadorian and a school trip to London, and includes mentions of Tate Modern, HMS Belfast and the National Theatre.

For Patterson, who already has nine books scheduled for publication in 2014, it seems success is 100 per cent guaranteed.


World's 10 best-selling authors (with biggest-selling book) since 2001

• 1: James Patterson (1st to Die)

• 2: JK Rowling (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire)

• 3: Nora Roberts (Red Lily)

• 4: Dr Seuss (Oh, the Places You'll Go!)

• 5 John Grisham (A Painted House)

• 6: Stephenie Meyer (Twilight)

• 7: Dan Brown (The Da Vinci Code)

• 8: Nicholas Sparks (The Notebook)

• 9: Janet Evanovich (One for the Money)

• 10: Jeff Kinney (Diary of a Wimpy Kid)

List compiled by Nielsen (US) Book Data