Sales of LGBTQ books in the United States are increasing

The NPD’s Kristen McLean says book sales data appears to reveal “a generational shift” in attitudes toward LGBTQ literature.

Image – Getty iStockphoto: Sneksky

By Porter Anderson, Editor | @Porter_Anderson

McLean: “An opportunity for publishers to grow”

OWhile we await a June recap from the NPD Group — we’re expecting it after the US Independence Day holiday — NPD’s latest industry report is of interest for a push that the book division, BookScan, is tracking in American LGBTQ literature for adults, children, and YA categories.

The timing of the news is interesting, given the threat many now believe posed to the legal protections of gay Americans, in relation to the writings of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas on the recent overthrow of Roe vs. Wade.

As Dan Mangan wrote for CNBC on Monday, “Thomas in a concurring opinion on the reversal of Roe vs. Wadethe federal ruling on abortion rights, suggested that cases involving gay rights and birth control rights should also be dropped.

According to NPD book industry analyst Kristen McLean, sales hit nearly 5 million units in 2021, double the sales of LGBTQ content from the previous year.

And so far in 2022, LGBTQ fiction book sales are up 39% year-over-year through May 28.

  • According to NPD BookScan figures, McLean reports, the biggest absolute gains in LGBTQ fiction last year came from young adult fiction subjects, with sales growing 1.3 million units from last year. the previous year.
  • Adam Silvera’s novel, They both die in the endprovided the most earnings.
  • Sales of adult fiction also exploded, growing by more than 1 million units in 2021 led by titles such as The House In The Cerulean Sea, by TJ Klune; One Last Stop, by Casey McQuiston; and On Earth, we are briefly beautifulby Ocean Vuong.

Kristen McLean

This trend continues to strengthen in 2022, but this year adult fiction is leading the charge, with sales up 55% from 2021.

“The continued strength of this topic across all areas of the market,” says McLean, “suggests there is an opportunity for publishers to expand into these topics or cross-reference LGBTQ topics with other high-growth areas of the market.” market.

“The growth of the young adult categories, in particular, reflects a generational shift towards a more open and inclusive attitude towards gender diversity and sexual orientation.”

Image: NDP Books

BISAC analysis: main category “YA Social Situations”

When NPD analysts looked at BISAC subject mix information for LGBTQ titles, “young adult social situations” showed the highest category share, McLean reports, followed by “general adult fiction.” .

‘Adult fiction fantasy’ has seen the strongest growth so far this year,” the company’s report says, “led by authors such as Mo Xiang Tong Xui; TJ Klune; and Heather Walter.

The next highest growth category is “young adult sci-fi,” led by Alice Oseman’s “Heartstopper” series, which was also released as a teen drama TV series on Netflix earlier this year. year. Although LGTBQ “adult romance” is a small sub-category, accounting for only 3% of overall romance sales, the growth exceeds total romance category sales by 10 points.

“Like the diverse world it reflects,” McLean says when assessing these numbers, “LGBTQ fiction is woven into all parts of the fiction landscape.

“What was once considered a publishing niche is now becoming mainstream, with a number of titles topping national bestseller lists and books being shared among generations of readers.

“It’s something to celebrate today and every day.”

Image – Getty iStockphoto: Fizkes

More about Publishing Perspectives’ industry statistics is here, more about the work of the NPD Group is here, more about LGBTQ issues in book publishing news is here, and more about the work of Kristen McLean is here, and more on the US book industry is here.

To learn more about Publishing Perspectives on the coronavirus pandemic and its impact, click here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

Facebook Twitter Google+

Porter Anderson is a non-resident member of Trends Research & Advisory, and was named International Business Journalist of the Year at the London Book Fair’s International Excellence Awards. He is editor of Publishing Perspectives. He was previously associate editor of The FutureBook at The Bookseller in London. Anderson was a senior producer and anchor for, CNN International and CNN USA for more than a decade. As an art critic (National Critics Institute), he has collaborated with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which is now owned and operated by Jane Friedman.