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Sunday, January 24, 2021

Book Sales Look Bright



After a solid 2020 for the book industry, 2021 has gotten off to a smoking hot start.

Unit sales of print books in early January were up a whopping 255 from a year ago. YA nonfiction was up a humongous 61%!

Last year, in certain respects for the nation, was awful. Race riots, a pandemic, a crashed economy and life in isolation happened in 2020. But if we focus on the book world, this past year was a strong and positive one.

Sales of print books rose dramatically in 2020 – by a clip of 8.2%. That gain in the number of unit sales is the largest in a decade. The strongest genres? YA nonfiction print units went up a stunning 38.3% for the year! Juvenile nonfiction and YA fiction each rose over 20%

The only format to see a decline was in the mass market paperback. Unit sales were down 5.5% last year.

So which books led the way and paved a road to success? The Top 25 selling print books each surpassed a half-million in sales. Seven books topped a million units sold. Only one book cleared the two million mark – Barack Obama’s a Promised Land – which also was the most expensive book of the 25 top sellers, with a cover price of $45. It sold 2.574 million copies last year – and it only came out in November. Michelle Obama’s 2018 tome, Become, sold 3.4 million copies two years ago, beating her husband’s book sales.

In terms of best-sellers, 89.1% of all hardcover bestsellers came from the Big 5 in 2020, down from 92.5% in 2019.  Trade Paperback bestsellers came 79% of the time form the Big 5 in 2020, down from 83.7% a year ago.  1,145 different books became best-sellers in 2020 – between trade paper, hardcover fiction, hardcover non-fiction, and mass market. That means a new book has worse than a 1 in 1,000 chance of being a best-seller, based on over million new books launched last year.


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Brian Feinblum, the founder of BookMarketingBuzzBlog, can be reached at  brianfeinblum@gmail.com.  You can – and should -- follow him on Twitter @theprexpert. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2021. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester with his wife, two kids, and Ferris, a black lab rescue dog. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s The Independent.  This was named one of the best book marketing blogs by BookBaby  http://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/09/the-best-book-marketing-blogs and recognized by Feedspot in 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. Also named by WinningWriters.com as a "best resource.” He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America. For more information, please consult: linkedin.com/in/brianfeinblum. 

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