Unit sales of print books got off to a blazing start in 2021. Sales jumped 19.3% last week over the week ended January 2 at outlets that report to NPD BookScan. Moreover, units were up nearly 25% over the comparable week in 2020. With sales hitting 17.1 million, BookScan said it was the first time in the history of the service unit sales topped 17 million in the first week of January.
Early January is always a good time for titles tied to renewal and self-improvement, and those categories did especially well compared to last year. In the nonfiction adult segment, double-digit gains were posted by body, mind, and spirit (up 63%), self-help (ahead 30%), cooking (+22%), and religion (+13%). The new year did not help the travel segment, however, with units tumbling 41%.
Overall, adult nonfiction sales rose 19% over the first week in January 2020, the smallest gain posted by the six major categories. Sales in the young adult nonfiction category jumped 61.3%, while fiction rose 49%. In the juvenile categories, fiction increased 34.6% over 2020, and nonfiction went up 33%.
Adult fiction also did well, with units rising 29.5%. Star Wars: Light of the Jedi by Charles Soule sold nearly 28,000 copies in its first week on sale while Danielle Steel’s newest, Neighbors, sold more than 23,000 copies.
A Promised Land by Barack Obama remained the top seller in the week, selling almost 47,000 copies. A new title by Sanjay Gupta, Keep Sharp, came in second, selling just under 41,000 copies in its first week on sale.