After two weeks of consecutive double-digit growth, unit sales of print books fell last week compared to the week ended May 9, 2020, at outlets that report to NPD BookScan. For the week ended May 16, units dropped 7.8% compared to the prior week. But although units fell on a week-to-week basis, the 12.3 million units sold were still 7.7% above the unit volume in the week ended May 18, 2019.
Sales in all the major categories fell last week from the previous week. The adult fiction category had the biggest decline, with sales down 11.7% compared to the previous week. The religion category, which had a big gain in the week ended May 9, saw units fall back 18% last week. Romance unit sales were down 17.7%. The fantasy genre was the best performer in the category, with units up 3.3%.
Both juvenile segments had a rare stumble last week, with print unit sales falling 8.9% in juvenile nonfiction and dropping 7.1% in fiction. The nonfiction decline was driven by an 17.8% drop in unit sales in the history/sports/people/places segment and a 11.3% decline in the biographies/autobiographies category.
Every segment in the juvenile fiction category saw a decline in the week. The biggest drops came in the social situations/family/health segment, where units fell 16.7%, and classics, which had an 8% drop.
The 5.9% decline in unit sales in the adult nonfiction was led by the hot cooking/entertainment category, where units were down 19.2%. Sales of Magnolia Table, Volume 2 fell to about 30,000 copies from just over 76,000 copies in the previous week. Humor sales were down 16.2%.