Unit sales of print books continue to defy expectations that the coronavirus crisis will lead to a plunge in sales. In fact, just the opposite is occurring. Last week, unit sales of print books had their second consecutive week of double-digit growth over the previous week at outlets that report to NPD BookScan. For the week ended May 9, 2020, print units were up 10.5% over the prior week, and rose 9.9% over the week ended May 11, 2019.
All four of the major categories had sales increases over the week ended May 2. In adult fiction, print units had a 14.7% increase over the prior week. Religion fiction led the increase, with units up nearly 44%, helped by the release of Karen Kingsbury’s Someone Like You, which sold nearly 11,000 copies in its first week on sale. The action/adventure segment had a 31.6% unit increase, driven by the releases of the mass market paperback editions of The Oracle by Clive Cussler and Contraband by Stuart Woods, which were in the first and second spots on the category bestseller lists. The general fiction segment saw a solid 19.6% rise over the previous week.
The adult nonfiction category had a 10% increase in sales of print units over the previous week. The biography/autobiography/memoir segment had the biggest gain in the category, with units up 25.3%. Incomparable by Brie and Nikki Bella sold almost 13,000 copies in its first week on sale, landing it at #3 on the category bestseller list, one place below Michelle Obama’s Becoming—which itself saw a spike in sales, to more than 30,000 copies in the week. The home/gardening and cooking/entertainment segments had increases of 23.1% and 16.8%, respectively.
Juvenile fiction print unit sales rose 10.2% last week. Print sales of nearly 27,000 copies of The One and Only Bob by Katherine Applegate in its first week in stores led to a 26.5% increase in sales in the social/situations/family/health segment. Print unit sales rose 16.9% in the history/sports/people/places segment. That segment also did well in juvenile nonfiction, where sales of print units rose 19.2% over the previous week. Sales of biographies and autobiographies increased 16.8%. Overall, unit sales in the entire category rose 4.2%.