Vampire books, iPads new inflation benchmark

Tablet computers like Apple's iPad and teenage fiction such as the popular vampire-themed "Twilight" series now form part of Britain's official inflation benchmark, the country's statistics agency said on Tuesday.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the new entrants replace items that have fallen out of favor - such as glass casserole dishes used for slow-cooked meals and the cost of developing photographic film.

The ONS samples a vast range of goods each month to track how the prices change due to inflation. The annual revision to its shopping "basket", as Britons' lifestyles change and technology develops, is also a barometer of consumer tastes.

"Tablets have been added as they represent a significant and growing market. Fiction was previously covered by children's and adult books, but with the growing popularity of many titles aimed specifically at teenagers, this new item has been added to the basket," the ONS said.

Technology has been a strong driver of change in the basket, with color film processing being removed as consumers use digital cameras, and tablet PCs added to reflect the popularity of products like Apple's iPad and the Samsung Galaxy Tab.

Changing palates are also reflected, with pineapples, cans of stout beer such as Guinness, soft continental cheese and take-away chicken and chips all making an appearance.

Last year's CPI changes featured the addition of mobile smartphones and phone apps, as well as dating agency fees.