Unit sales of print books continue to gallop past 2020 numbers in the early weeks of 2021. For the week ended January 16, 2021, units jumped 22.7% over the comparable week in 2020 at outlets that report to NPD BookScan.
Against the backdrop of the January 6 insurrection in Washington, D.C., a couple of books dealing with political upheaval did well in the week. Timothy Snyder’s On Tyranny sold almost 25,000 copies, placing it in the fourth spot on the overall bestseller list. 1984 by George Orwell sold more than 24,000 copies, making it the sixth most popular book last week. The strong performance from On Tyranny and another good week for Barack Obama’s A Promised Land helped to give a 16.5% increase to sales in the adult nonfiction category last week.
The biggest gains, however, came in the young adult categories, with fiction up 47.6% and nonfiction rising 46.9%. The release of Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas helped to lift sales in YA fiction, selling nearly 18,000 copies. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart also had a solid week, with sales just topping 17,000 copies. In YA nonfiction, Stamped by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi was the top seller, selling more than 4,100 copies.
Juvenile fiction sales rose 30.7% in the week led by Little Blue Truck’s Valentine by Alice Schertle, which sold just over 28,000 copies, and Dav Pilkey’s Cat Kid Comic Club, which sold nearly 22,000 copies. Juvenile nonfiction sales rose 28.8% over 2020. Two educational titles led the way: Crystal Radtke’s My First Learn to Write Workbook sold over 7,000 copies, and Big Preschool Workbook sold 6,400 copies.
The adult fiction category also had a great week, with print unit sales up almost 30% over 2020. Charlie Mackesy’s The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse was #1 in the category, selling nearly 25,000 copies.
For the first two weeks of 2021, unit sales of print books were up 23.9% over the comparable period in 2020.