So what culture fixes did you get up to in 2006?
Amazon.co.uk has revealed that in 2006 the average Brit listened to indie rock, relaxed watching DVD box sets of their favourite TV shows and reading books that improved their minds.
They abandoned violentvideogames in favour of family-friendly entertainment, became obsessed with cooking, bought TV tie-in toys, and realised that the one item they couldn’t live without was their memory card.
The UK's largest online retailer, Amazon claims it is uniquely positioned to be able to see trends and patterns in UK consumption with a product range that spans books, DVDs, music, homeware, garden furnishings, sex toys and beyond.
Amazon.co.uk Managing Director, Brian McBride, said, “Last year’s sales provide a fascinating insight into the consumption habits of UK shoppers, and highlight some real emerging trends across all our product categories.
“Shopping habits are constantly changing and evolving, and are an amazing barometer of what people consider fun or important at any given time – and last year showed us the evolution of some fascinating consumption patterns.”
Searches: Songs, Sex and Star Wars
This year there was no contest – searches for ‘Wii’ or ‘Nintendo Wii’ were top of Amazon’s 2006 search list, with almost 300,000 separate searches for both terms being recorded over one week during the busy Christmas period.
The ever-popular Star Wars came in at number two, with Apple’s iPod proving that it’s still everyone’s shorthand for ‘MP3 player’ at number three.
Books: Fact-mad Brits go wild for trivia
Brits sought knowledge in 2006 – Amazon.co.uk's Top 10 bestsellers for the year were headed by the Dangerous Book for Boys, Conn and Hal Iggulden's surprise hit of the summer.
But other quirky titles full of instructive knowledge made up 50 per cent of the list, with QI and Why Don't Penguins Feet Freeze in second and third place respectively. The heavyweight hit of the year was Richard Dawkins' God Delusion, charting at number five.
Conn Iggluden's success in the fiction charts with Wolf of the Plains saw him become 2006's biggest selling author on Amazon.co.uk, beating perennial favourite Terry Pratchett into second place.
In the battle of the chefs it was surprisingly Jamie Oliver winning the battle, placing third in the overall bestselling author list and topping Gordon Ramsay's sales by 50 per cent.
In an indication of real life mirroring economic theory, Chris Anderson's Long Tail theory seems to have been proven by last year's book sales - sales of Amazon.co.uk's Top 10 bestsellers made up just two per cent of its overall book sales.
Top 10 Selling Books
1. The Dangerous Book for Boys – Conn and Hal Iggulden
2. QI: The Book of General Ignorance - QI
3. Why Don't Penguins' Feet Freeze?: And 114 Other Questions
4. The Sound of Laughter – Peter Kay
5. The God Delusion – Richard Dawkins
6. Cook with Jamie: My Guide to Making You a Better Cook – Jamie Oliver
7. The Time Traveler's Wife – Amy Niffenegger
8. Does Anything Eat Wasps?: And 101 Other Questions - New Scientist
9. The Boys' Book: How to Be the Best at Everything -
10. The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
Top 10 Selling Authors
1. Conn Iggulden
2. Terry Pratchett
3. Jamie Oliver
4. Richard Dawkins
5. Julia Donaldson
6. Paul McKenna
7. Peter Kay
8. Gordon Ramsay
9. Lemony Snicket
10. Dan Brown
Music: Indie makes a come back
The recent resurgence in indie rock shows no signs of stopping - only Take That and the Scissor Sisters manage to break the stranglehold that guitar bands have on the Top 10 albums.
There was one standout winner in the battle of the bands 2006 - Snow Patrol beat all-comers, with their album Eyes Open just outselling the Arctic Monkeys' debut to take number one spot in the bestselling album chart.
Not only that, but new fans keen to snap up the band's back catalogue helped propel them to the title of overall bestselling artists of the year.
Other best-selling artists of the year included perennial favourites the Beatles and, more surprisingly, Johnny Cash - it seems that the release of Walk the Line in 2005 gained the Man in Black a whole new generation of admirers, propelling him to number two in the overall sales charts.
Top 10 Selling Albums 2006
1. Eyes Open - Snow Patrol
2. Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not - Arctic Monkeys
3. Ta Dah! -Scissor Sisters
4. Sam's Town - The Killers
5. Beautiful World - Take That
6. Live Lounge - Various Artists
7. Razorlight - Razorlight
8. Now That's What I Call Music Vol.65 - Various Artists
9. Inside in/Inside Out - Kooks
10. Under the Iron Sea – Keane
Top 10 Selling Artists 2006
1. Snow Patrol
2. Johnny Cash
3. The Beatles
4. Scissor Sisters
5. Arctic Monkeys
6. Jack Johnson
7. Take That
8. The Killers
DVD Sales: TV Box Sets beat the Box Office
It seems that TV series are catching up on movies when it comes to people's buying habits.
Some 46 per cent of DVDs sold in 2006 were of TV series rather than films, and with box sets of Lost and 24 showing no signs of stopping, this is a trend that will only get bigger.
When it comes to movies, 2006 was the year of Pirates of the Caribbean – Dead Man’s Chest. Not content with plundering the box office, Johnny Depp and co took the Amazon.co.uk DVD charts by storm, comfortably outselling everything else on the market by at least 25 per cent.
Second in Amazon.co.uk's 2006 bestsellers list is the BBC's Planet Earth series, which, with March of the Penguins at number 5, shows that Brits love animals as much as ever. The surprise hit of the year is High School Musical, Disney's American smash which proved that musicals are definitely back, charting at number 4.
Top 10 – DVD Sales
1. Pirates Of The Caribbean - Dead Man's Chest 
2. Planet Earth (BBC TV Series) - 5 Disc Box Set 
3. Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire (2 Disc Special Edition) 
4. High School Musical (Encore Edition) 
5. March of the Penguins - Luc Jacquet 
6. Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit 
7. Cars (2006 - Disney/Pixar)
8. The Da Vinci Code (2 Disc Special Edition) 
9. Pride & Prejudice - 2005
10. 24: Series 5
DVD Rental: Brits give ‘high brow’ a try
The recent trend towards 'highbrow' Hollywood movies is reflected best in the most-rented DVDs of 2006.
Top 10 DVD Rental
1. Constant Gardener
3. Walk the Line
4. Memoirs of a Geisha
5. Brokeback Mountain
6. Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
7. King Kong
8. Mrs Henderson Presents
9. The Island
10. Mr. & Mrs. Smith
Home and Garden: Brits go kitchen crazy
Brits are splashing out more on kitchenware as their obsession with fine food and eating well grows.
Top seller in Amazon.co.uk's Homes and Gardens product category was the Panasonic SD253 Breadmaker, whilst Jamie Oliver appears once again in our bestseller charts with his Flavour Shaker at number two.
Despite all this culinary activity, though, this summer's furore over the rise of 'Size 0' evidently hit a chord - WeightWatchers Electronic Scales were the third highest-selling item.
Top 10 Home and Garden
1. Panasonic SD253 Breadmaker with Nut Dispenser
2. Jamie Oliver Flavour Shaker
3. Weightwatchers 8976U Glass Body Monitoring Precision Electronic Scale
4. Dyson DC07 Origin Silver Yellow Upright Vacuum Cleaner
5. Braun Oral-B Professional Care 7000 Rechargeable Power Toothbrush
6. Braun Oral-B EB17-4 FlexiSoft Toothbrush Refill 4 Pk
7. Braun Oral-B EB17-8 FlexiSoft Toothbrush Refill 8 Pk
8. Braun Tassimo Freshly Brewed Coffee, Cappuccino and Hot Drinks Machine (silver)
9. Remington BHT2000 Body Hair Trimmer
10. Omron Walking Style II Pro Pedometer (Blue/Black)
Software: Family research and brain training
Two clear trends emerge from 2006's sales: firstly, Brits have taken the messages about training your brain to heart, with MindScape's Brain Trainer software was in the top five throughout the run-up Christmas.
Secondly, the current craze for family history and genealogy research shows no signs of abating - more and more people are looking to research where they came from using software such as the Who Do You Think You Are? Family Tree Maker, which was the 10th bestselling software product for 2006.
Top 10 Software
1. Microsoft Office Student & Teacher Edition 2003
2 Norton Internet Security 2006
3. ZoneAlarm Internet Security Suite 6
4. Norton Internet Security 2007 (PC)
5. Norton Internet Security 2006 (Upgrade Edition)
6. Norton Antivirus 2006
7. Microsoft Money (PC)
8. Acronis True Image 9
9. McAfee Internet Security Suite 2006 (PC)
10. Who Do You Think You Are Family Tree Maker Deluxe
Consumer Electronics: The year we all became ‘portable’
2006 was all about miniature hard disks and storing information, whether it be on a memory stick or an iPod.
It all points toward a growth in what trendspotters are calling 'Life Caching' - human beings (fueled by a need for self-worth, validation, control, vanity, even immortality) love to collect and store possessions, memories, experiences, in order to create personal histories, mementoes of their lives, or just to keep track for practical reasons.
Thanks to the onslaught of new technologies and tools, from blogging software to memory sticks to high definition camera phones with lots of storage space and other 'life capturing and storing devices', an almost biblical flood of 'personal content' is being collected, and waiting to be stored to allow for ongoing trips down memory lane.
Top 10 Consumer Electronics
1. ByteStore 1GB USB 2.0 High Speed Dataferry Flash Drive
2. Apple iPod – 30GB - Black
3. Viking 1GB Secure Digital Memory Card
4. Compacks Multi-Region DVD Player
5. Kingston Technology 1GB Data Traveler USB Flash Pen Drive
6. SanDisk Cruzer Micro 1GB USB 2.0 Flash Drive
7. Digiview Freeview Digital Terrestrial Receiver
8. Digital My Book 250GB Essential USB 2.0 External Hard Drive
9. Kingston Technology 2GB USB 2.0 Flash Pen Drive
10. ByteStore 2GB USB 2.0 High Speed Dataferry Flash Drive
Toys: Traditional Entertainment with a TV Slant
TV shows were this year’s big winners in the toy market, proving that today’s kids are more influenced by their telly heroes than ever.
Sales of Dr Who merchandise went through the roof, with the Top Trumps, Cyberman Action Figures, Sonic Screwdriver LED Torches and Sonic Screwdriver sets all taking up places in the chart.
Despite the increasingly wired world we live in, it seems that certain perennial favourites in the toy market never lose their appeal. Amazon.co.uk’s top 10 toys in 2006 saw a real return to traditional pursuits, with 20 Questions in top spot, selling 20 per cent more than the nearest contender, Dr Who Top Trumps.
The humble Rubik’s Cube made a strong showing at number 4 in the chart, whilst even old fashioned Monopoly muscled its way into our bestseller list – albeit the ‘Here and Now Electronic Edition’, with a modern twist.
Top 10 Toys
2. Top Trumps - Doctor Who
3. Doctor Who Action Figure - Cyberman
4. Original Rubik's Cube
5. Rush Hour Traffic Jam Puzzle
6. Bop It Extreme 2
7. Deal or No Deal – Board Game
8. Aqua Draw Mini Mats - Thomas & Friends
9. Monopoly Here & Now Electronic Edition
10. Ravensburger Puzzleball - The World (540 pieces)
Videogames: Gamers swap violence for virtue in 2006
As systems such as the Nintendo Wii and DS expand the appeal of gaming beyond the traditionally perceived audience of teenage boys, sales of videogames on Amazon.co.uk are reflecting a real change in the types of games Brits want. 2006 saw top-selling violent games of the past, such as Grand Theft Auto and Medal of Honour, replaced by more family-friendly titles with broader appeal, such as The Sims 2, Animal Crossing, and New Super Mario Bros.
The Brain Training theme for 2006 continues in Amazon.co.uk’s videogames category, with gamers going wild for Dr Kawashima's Brain Training on the Nintendo DS which grabbed the top-sellers spot last year.
Elsewhere, the surprise hit of the year was the unlikely combination of two huge favourites – Star Wars and Lego combined in Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy to reach the number two spot.
Football was the other big gaming winner, three separate soccer-related titles taking up space in the top 10, with FIFA 07, Football Manager 07, and Pro Evo 6 at four, eight and nine respectively in the chart.
Top 10 Videogames
1. Dr Kawashima's Brain Training: How Old Is Your Brain? (Nintendo DS)
2. Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy (PS2)
3. The Sims 2: Pets (PC DVD)
4. FIFA 07 (PS2)
5. Animal Crossing: Wild World (Nintendo DS)
6. The Sims 2: Open for Business Expansion Pack (PC CD)
7. New Super Mario Bros. (Nintendo DS)
8. Football Manager 2007 (PC CD)
9. Pro Evolution Soccer 6 (PS2)
10. The Sims 2 (PC/DVD)
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