Driven by strong backlist sales, unit sales of print books rose 26% last week over the week ended February 29, 2020, at outlets that report to NPD BookScan. It was the largest week-over-week gain compared to 2020 so far this year, helping unit sales finish the first two months of 2021 with a 21.2% increase over the first two months of 2020.
Last week’s 26% increase was accomplished without the release of a major new hit. The top-selling new book last week was Believe It by Jamie Kern Lima, which sold 29,000 copies, landing it in third place on the overall bestseller list. The top title last week was Charlie Mackesy’s The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse, published in October 2019, which had a huge sales spike in the week, selling nearly 97,000 copies.
As has been the case for much of the first two months of the year, unit sales were up across all major categories last week over 2020. The young adult fiction category had the biggest gain, with units up 70.1%. The smallest gain came in the adult nonfiction segment, where unit sales rose 14.7%.
The 21.2% increase in the first two months of 2021 was led by a 31% increase in backlist sales, compared to a year ago, at outlets that report to BookScan. Frontlist sales increased 3% in the period.
The top-selling titles through February were a mix of new and backlist. Kristin Hannah’s The Four Winds was the #1 seller, selling more than 267,000 copies since its release in early February. The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse, was in second place, selling more than 230,000 copies. Sanjay Gupta’s Keep Sharp sold almost 206,000 copies since its January release, followed by Barack Obama’s A Promised Land, which sold over 192,000 copies. Rounding out the list of the top-five selling print titles so far this year was James Clear’s Atomic Habits, released in October 2018, which sold more than 164,000 copies.