Unit sales of print books hit a new high for the week ended March 13, 2021, compared to the similar week in 2020. According to NPD BookScan, units jumped 36.5% last week over the week ended March 14, 2020. A portion of the gain was due to some weakness in 2020 caused by the early impact of the pandemic; unit sales fell 6.2% compared to the similar week in 2019. But, for the most part, the unit sales gain was driven by continued solid demand for print books.
Large unit gains, as has been the case for most of 2021, occurred in all the major segments, and the increase was also helped by the release of two adult nonfiction books that hit the top two slots on the overall bestseller list. Nicole Lepera’s How to Do the Work was #1, selling more than 53,000 copies, while Dana Perino’s Everything Will Be Okay was second, selling nearly 51,000 copies. A third new nonfiction title also had a solid first week, with The Code Breaker by Walter Isaacson landing in fifth place on the overall list, selling over 41,000 copies. Overall, print unit adult nonfiction sales increased 27.6% over the comparable week in 2020.
Juvenile fiction sales skyrocketed 55.2% over 2020. Sales of Dr. Seuss titles continued to sell well, although not at the same rate as in the prior week. Even so, seven of the top 10 bestselling titles in juvenile fiction category were Seuss books, led by Green Eggs and Ham, which sold more than 46,000 titles, and One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish, which sold over 34,000 copies.
The young adult segment had the biggest gain among the major categories, with unit sales jumping almost 58%. Adam Silvera’s They Both Die in the End returned to the #1 spot, selling nearly 17,000 copies, followed by Cassandra Clare’s Chain of Iron, Volume 2, selling more than 10,000 copies.
Through March 13, 2021, unit sales of print books were up 23.9% over the comparable period in 2020.