Tuesday, July 20, 2021

What’s Fueling A Print Book Sales Surge?


Last year, even with stores shut or operations hampered by the pandemic, book sales were up vs 2019. Leading the gains last year were print books. This year, the surge continues again. Why? Will it continue into next year?

Units of print book sales for the first half of this year, vs. the same time last year, are up a whopping 18.5%. That is huge!

The growth will absolutely continue in the fall if bookstore events return as planned. More book store appearances by authors will sell lots more print books. That is a no-brainer. Come the holidays, with parties and gatherings back in vogue, books will be purchased as gifts.

Travel is up. That means books for plane rides to vacation spots where more reading gets done. The more that people gather, the more books get discussed — and inspire more sales.

Book groups returned and they often generate print book purchases.

The economy bounced back and lots of government handouts are circulating. There is money available to buy one of the least expensive forms of entertainment.

Hardcover unit sales are up 23.4%. That is where publishers make a lot of money. Even mass market books, which declined sharply over the last decade, are up 5.1%. Board books, which are raising the next generation of book readers, jumped by 20.1%. This is fantastic.

More is to come. Once we get more travelers from overseas, more books will be sold. Additionally, places like gift shops of museums, that would normally sell books, have been hampered by fewer sales hours. Many in NYC are open on the weekend, closed during the week. That could change in the fall.

YA fiction print sales are up 48.8%. This is wild! The only print category in decline is juvenile nonfiction, down 3.2%. Not sure why. YA nonfiction is up 20%. Graphic novels were up an obscene 178% — and represent one in five adult fiction unit sales this year. Last year it was 1 in 11.

Though sales of new books are up, sales of backlist books are up even more. What’s old is still new to someone.

Look for more growth to come from school sales of books. Book fairs at school or school’s that have a book store were muzzled last year. This fall, and into spring 2022, we should see a big boost there.


As tens of millions go back to offices in cities to work this fall, more commuting by public transportation means more book sales. Further, many bookstores are in urban areas and now they will be where the crowds are. Ka-ching!

The United States is on pace to surpass over 800,000,000 print unit sales for 2022. That represents only sales captured by NPD Book Scan, but it could be that hundreds of millions of book sales take place under the radar, vis author website purchases or sales at events where a bookstore is not involved.  So, we could hit over a billion print books sold in a single year!

It is a banner year for print books, given competition from less expensive e-books, a pandemic, and a world where literacy seems to suffer as people flock to social media, Netflix, and hemp dispensaries.

Look for the resurgence of print books to continue in 2021 and well into 2022.

Need Book PR Help?

Brian Feinblum, the founder of this award-winning blog, can be reached at brianfeinblum@gmail.com He is available to help authors promote their story, sell their book, and grow their brand. He has 30 years of experience in helping thousands of authors in all genres.


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About Brian Feinblum

Brian Feinblum should be followed 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. It was 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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