Pandemic takes print book sales to highest level in a decade

The importance of print books became evident in 2020 as lockdowns and uncertainty related to the pandemic culminated in the best year for print book sales in the United States since 2010. According to the latest analysis of sales data of NPD, the volume in 2020 increased 8.2% year-over-year to 751 million pounds.

At first glance, such an increase in sales of printed books may seem surprising. But when you consider what people have been going through over the past year, it’s less surprising. Many people stuck at home with plenty of free time turn to books as a key source of entertainment, comfort, and escape.

“The US consumer book market is very different today than it was in April,” said Kristen McLean, book industry analyst for NPD. “Sales growth has come in waves, from the sudden need to educate children at home to the heated political cycle. All the extra time people were spending at home created a great appetite for reading, including huge spikes in cookbook and do-it-yourself book sales, which helped keep people entertained. and engaged.

The growth of print books has been led by children’s fiction, which has contributed to a third of the growth in the US book market. Printed children’s fiction, the second largest category in terms of volume, grew 11%, selling 18 million more books in 2020 than in 2019. Non-fiction printed books for adults, largest category books in the United States in terms of volume and revenue, increased 4.8% (14 million pounds) year-over-year in 2020. Non-fiction for children increased by 23% (14 million pounds). With traditional bookstores having had a tough year due to mandatory closings, these numbers represent a remarkable resurgence for printed books.

To get a glimpse into the collective mood of Americans and what they turn to for entertainment and comfort, you don’t need to look any further than the best-selling titles of 2020. Despite its release after the November election, the 2020 bestseller was “A Promised Land,” the memoir of former President Barack Obama, which sold 2.68 million copies. Of the first 10 books, more than half were for children or the young adult market. The second seller was Stephenie Meyer’s “Midnight Sun,” a young adult novel that accompanied the 2005 bestseller “Twilight.” The third on the 10 best list is the last of Dave Pilkey’s hugely popular Dog Man graphic novel series, “Dog Man: Grime and Punishment”.

JS Print Book Top 10 Best Sellers

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But it’s not just the United States that is rediscovering its love for printed books. Sales in the UK have also skyrocketed. According to the latest figures from Nielsen, over 200 million printed books were sold in the UK last year – the highest number of books in a 12-month period since 2012. Nielsen estimates that the volume of printed books sold increased 5.2% from 2019, equivalent to 202 million books sold, valued at $ 2.4 billion.

Like the top sellers in the United States, the top sellers in the UK provide a window into the mindset of the British. The cookbook “Pinch of Nom – Everyday Light” came in third with Richard Osman’s crime thriller “The Thursday Murder Club” in second. First place went to The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy, an illustrated tale of friendship and life lessons described as “a book of hope for uncertain times”.

Given the popularity of e-readers, it is encouraging to see the resilience and continued success of printed books. Whether it’s the heightened sense of connection a reader experiences with a story, the tactile pleasure of touching a physical book, or just the pleasure of turning a real page, printed books have an important role to play in helping readers. people get out of real life for a while and lower stress and anxiety levels. Maybe someone should write a book about it.


This article originally appeared on the Two sides Blog.