Few in the industry have been ready to predict how book business will end in 2021, but in a July 21 presentation on the industry’s printing unit sales in the first half of the year , NPD BookScan analyst Kristen McLean presented three possible scenarios. . All results assume that the rapid gains in printing unit sales that the industry has posted so far this year will slow in the final six months of 2021.
Indeed, McLean noted that since the end of what she called a historic first quarter, the year-to-date growth rate has lost about one point per week; in other words, growth grew by 29% at the end of the first quarter and 18% at the end of the second quarter. At present, she said, sales appear to be gradually returning to more normal performance.
If so and sales continue even into 2020 for the remainder of the year, sales of print units will end 2021 with an 8% gain over last year. If sales were to return closer to 2019 levels, which means lower sales in the last few months of the year compared to 2020, sales would still end the coming year up 2% compared to 2020. to 2020. The fastest growth rate, at 10% for the year, will only be possible if higher infection rates result in more lockdowns and stay-at-home orders, she said. . The post “has worked well with people back home,” McLean said in explaining why lockdowns can be good for the industry. She noted that she thinks the 10% increase is the least likely scenario, predicting that unit sales will end the year with gains of between 2% and 8%.
The biggest wild card factor, she said, is the future course of the virus, as there is still a lot of uncertainty about the impact of Covid-19 on the country. The ongoing pandemic has led to higher than normal differences in book sales between various geographies, she noted, complicating how sales will continue to operate.
Before making his prediction, McLean reviewed the trends through July 3, when sales were up 18.4% from a year ago. Two of the biggest sales drivers during the period were from graphic novels and young adult fiction. Half of the increase in graphic novel sales came from manga, McLean said, attributing the growth in part to streaming services, which featured a number of shows based on manga stories.
Gains among young adults, McLean said, were significantly boosted by #BookTok. BookScan started seeing videos of people’s favorite books published on the platform at the end of the year, and this trend continued into 2021. The increase in sales of manga and YA is good for the world. industry in the long and short term, McLean noted, because it means publishing is attracting younger readers.
And while the backlist continues to perform exceptionally well in 2021, frontlist sales increased in the second quarter, gaining 3 points of market share from the backlist. However, at the end of the first half of 2021, backlists still represented 69% of copies sold.
A version of this article appeared in the 07/26/2021 issue of Editors Weekly under the headline: Where will the 2021 sales land?