Unit sales of print books rose 2% in the first nine months of 2015, compared to the similar period in 2014, at outlets that report to Nielsen BookScan, which records about 80%–85% of all print sales. The gain was led by a 4% increase in the retail and club channel, which includes bookstores and Amazon; this increase offset declines through mass merchandisers.
The performance in the first nine months of the year was also marked by a good showing from adult fiction. Units in the segment have fallen steadily since the surge of e-books in 2009, but from January to September this year units were up 3% over the same span in 2014. Sales of adult fiction were helped enormously by three print blockbusters: Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman has sold 1.4 million print copies since its July release; Grey by E.L. James has sold 1.2 million since publication in June; and 1.1 million copies of The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins have been sold since its hardcover release in January.
Sales in adult nonfiction rose 5% in the first nine months of the year, relative to the same period last year. Although no title in the category has yet sold a million copies based on BookScan data, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo sold just under 800,000 copies in the year to date (it was released last October), almost double that of the second bestselling adult nonfiction title, Tom Rath’s Strengths Finder 2.0. The segment has also benefitted from the adult coloring book craze (though not all adult coloring books fall under the adult nonfiction heading). Two coloring books that have sold more than 100,000 copies so far this year are Creative Haven Creative Cats Coloring Book by Marjorie Sarnat and Adult Coloring Book: Stress Reduction.
By a classification quirk, the two biggest-selling adult coloring books so far this year appear in the juvenile nonfiction segment. Johanna Basford’s The Secret Garden and Enchanted Forest have combined to sell more than 671,000 copies at outlets covered by BookScan, helping lift unit sales in the juvenile nonfiction category by 11% through September, relative to the same period 2014. Aside from Basford’s books, a range of titles have done well in 2015, led by the board book format, in which units were up 11% this year.
The only down segment through September was juvenile fiction, a decline that had been expected given the strong performance last year of Veronica Roth’s Divergent series plus several John Green titles. In fact, it is a Green backlist book, Paper Towns, that led the juvenile fiction list through September, selling about 826,000 copies. The top-selling juvenile fiction title released in 2015 was The Isle of the Lost by Melissa de la Cruz, which has sold more than 381,000 copies, landing it in fourth place on the list.
Unit Sales of Print Books, January-September 2014 vs. 2015
Unit Sales of Print Books by Channel
|Retail & Club||353,719||369,430||4%|
Unit Sales of Print Books by Category
Unit Sales of Print Books by Format
|Mass Market Paperback||53,431||48,323||-9%|