Print book sales soar in the first half of the year

In the first half of 2020, unit sales of printed books surprised many industry players by posting an increase of 2.9% compared to the same period in 2019 in the outlets under NPD BookScan, overcoming a decline in early spring sales after the onset of the crisis. Covid pandemic19. Print sales ended 2020 up 8.2% from 2019, and this strong performance continued into 2021, with units surging 18.5% in the first six months compared to the previous year. comparable period of 2020. With the exception of the juvenile non-fiction category, all major publishing categories have double-digit sales growth in the first half of the year. Backlist posted the biggest gains, up 21.4%, but frontlist sales were also strong, up 12.4%.

The increase in the first half of 2021 was led by the adult fiction category, where units rose 30.7%. The best seller in the category was Kristin Hannah The four winds, which has sold over 558,000 copies since its release in early February (see “2021 Bestselling Print Books [So Far]”, P. 6). Other adult fiction bestsellers were a mix of new releases and backlist titles. Where the crayfish sing by Delia Owens took two spots on the category’s bestseller list: the commercial paperback edition sold over 294,000 copies after its release in late March, while the hardcover edition was n ° 20, with nearly 151,000 copies.

The great story of adult fiction was the strength of the graphic novel format. Unit sales climbed 178.5% in the first half of the year, reaching 16.2 million copies sold, making graphic novels the second largest adult fiction subcategory. Graphic novels accounted for nearly 20% of adult fiction unit sales in the first six months of 2021, up from 9.3% last year.

Viz Media has been one of the big beneficiaries of the graphic novel boom. Kohei Horikoshi My Hero Academia, Vol. 26 was the first adult graphic novel of the first half of the year, selling over 90,000 copies. The other volumes in the Academia range also sold well, notably volume two (around 82,000 copies sold) and volume one (81,000 copies). Demon Slayer: Kimetsu No Taiba, Vol. 1 by Koyoharu Gotouge, also published by Viz, has sold over 82,000 copies. A title published by a company other than Viz, Attack on Titan, Vol. 1 by Hajime Isayama, published by Kodansha, has sold nearly 88,000 copies.

YA fiction sales posted the largest increase of any major category in the first half of 2021, with units up 48.8%. The jump came despite some tough comparisons to the first half of 2020, when Suzanne Collins’ prequel to Hunger Games, The ballad of songbirds and snakes, sold over 887,000 copies, making it the best-selling book of the period. The first title in the category this year was They both die in the end by Adam Silvera, which sold nearly 331,000 copies. First published in December 2018, They both die was propelled up the charts thanks to exposure on BookTok, a forum that has increased sales of a number of YA titles this year.

Sales of children’s fiction increased 17.8% in the first six months of 2021, and the category had the most popular book in the period. Mothering Heights (Dog Man # 10) by Dav Pilkey has sold over 867,000 copies, and Pilkey’s Cat kids cartoon club sold nearly 370,000 copies.

Adult non-fiction unit sales rose 15.6% in the first half of the year, driven by increases in most subcategories. Self-help book sales increased the most, up 32.1%, followed by business and economics books, up 24%, and home and gardening and books non-fiction in general, both of which saw increases of just over 22%. Only two areas saw sales decline: humor, where sales were down 17.4%, and crafts / hobbies / antiques / games, where sales were down 1.2%. The # 1 title in the category was The hill that we climb by Amanda Gorman, the book version of the poem she read during the inauguration of President Biden, which sold over 455,000 copies.

In the first six months of 2020, the children’s non-fiction category saw the biggest sales increase in the first half of 2019, with printing units up 25.5%, as the demand for books to help parents educate and entertain their children at home has skyrocketed. Category sales were expected to decline this year, but the decline has been moderate, with sales down 3.2% from H1 2020 (and sales are up sharply from $ 27.5million). copies sold in the first half of 2019). Sales of educational / reference / language books, the second-largest sub-category within children’s non-fiction, fell the most, down 26.5%. Sales of social history / sports / people / places titles, the largest youth non-fiction subcategory, increased 2.7%. The biggest gain was in social / family / health titles, where sales increased 46.2%.

Unit sales throughout the first half of 2021 have shown continuous weekly increases over 2020, but sales gains have become weaker. In the first quarter, sales of printed books increased by 29% compared to the first quarter of 2020, a margin that narrowed in the second quarter to around 8%. Some publishers have expressed concern about how the 2021 balance will play out as reading and buying books faces increased competition from forms of entertainment that were not available during lockdowns. Covid. Others are betting that the rise in reading will hold for some time. There are still six months to see who is right.

A version of this article appeared in the 12/07/2021 issue of Editors Weekly under the title: Soaring sales of semi-annual print