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  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 and recognized by Feedspot in 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. Also named by as a "best resource.” He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America. For more information, please consult: 

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