Many people would have figured that print units would sell less because of lockdown due to COVID-19. That has not been the case as print units saw an increase in the first half of 2020.
Print units saw an increase of 2.8% in the first half of 2020 compared to the same period of time in 2019 according to NPD BookScan. 322.1 million print copies were sold during the first half of 2020 which is up from 313.5 million units sold during first half of last year.
With schools being closed, parents have turned towards books to resume their children’s education. That is why children’s nonfiction books saw a spike in sales. Books about race relations and social justice have also seen a spike in sales after George Floyd’s death by police in Minneapolis in late May.
Juvenile nonfiction books saw the biggest increase in sales in the first half of 2020 with an increase of 25.5% compared to 2019. My First Learn-to-Write Workbook by Crystal Radke led all books with a whopping 379,000 copies sold. Under the juvenile nonfiction section, education/reference/language related books saw an increase of almost 65%.
Young adult fiction books also did well and that was partly due to Suzanne Collins. Her novel The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes sold over 887,000 copies which leads all books in sales for the first half of 2020.
Another category that did well was adult fiction with an increase of 2.9% compared to first six months of last year. People wanting to escape reality and the coronavirus flocked towards adult fiction novels. The book that led in sales in this category was Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens which was released in August 2018 with over 714,000 copies sold. Graphic novels saw an increase of of over 10% over the same period of time last year.
Not every category saw an increase as adult nonfiction print units fell over 3% in the first half of 2020. Part of that reason is due to travel books plummeting 42%. With travel plans cancelled, people don’t need books about traveling until things go back to normal. Cook books saw an increase of almost 12 percent and general nonfiction saw an increase of almost 10 percent compared to last year.
New releases Magnolia Table: Volume 2 by Joanna Gaines andThe Room Where It Happened by John Bolton helped cook books and general nonfiction thrive. Gaines novel sold about 530,000 and Bolton’s tell-all tale about the White House sold around 516,00 copies. Another book published in 2018 moved a lot of copies as Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility sold over 487,000 copies.
People have turned to reading to pass the time while quarantined. The effect of the coronavirus on book sales still has yet to be seen. Will it lead to a profit? Without the ability to hold book releases and promote books, it will hurt smaller authors who need word of mouth to help sell books. Still, this a good sign and a trend that might stay considering how the coronavirus is still prevalent in many countries.