According to Publishers Weekly, the pandemic changed book-buying patterns. One obvious change: The travel book subcategory had a severe decline last year, with units plunging 40.3% compared to 2019.
Overall, sales were up in 2020. BookScan said the 8.2% gain was the largest annual increase since 2010. When schools shut, parents’ demand for hard copy juvenile nonfiction titles jumped 23.1% Big Preschool Work sold nearly 790,000 copies, while Crystal Radke’s My First Learn-to-Write Workbook sold more than 703,000 copies.
In YA nonfiction, anti-racism books helped drive gains. Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You by Jason Reynolds was #1 on the category list, selling more than 317,000 copies, while This Book Is Anti-racist by Tiffany Jewell sold more than 76,000 copies.
Adult fiction sales rose 6% over 2019. The hottest subcategory was graphic novels, where sales rose 29%. (The action/adventure subcategory had the toughest year, with units down 14.9%.)
Political books -not the spin or puff pieces- but books tied to social justice topics, helped lift sales in adult nonfiction 4.8% over 2019.
Our industry is alive and well despite the troubled times.