Unit sales of print books continued to sell at a brisk pace last week at outlets that report to NPD BookScan, but year-to-year comparisons are starting to get more complex as sales at this time last year were becoming more affected by the spreading pandemic.
Print units rose 37.4% in the week ended March 20, 2021, over the same period in 2020. Compared to the more “normal” year of 2019, unit sales were still up a very healthy 32.6%. Compared to the week ended March 14, 2021, units increased 3.5%
The most noticeable impact of last year’s dramatic spring changes came in the juvenile nonfiction category. Sales fell 24.5% last week compared to a year ago, when parents began buying educational books in droves for their children, who were learning from home as schools shut down. Last year at this time, Crystal Radke’s My First Learn to Write Workbook sold over 29,000 copies, and seven other books among the top 10 category bestsellers with the word “workbook” in their title sold a total of about 110,000 copies. Last week, Radke’s book was once again #1, but sold a relatively modest 8,187 copies at BookScan outlets.
The young adult nonfiction category had a 7.3% increase over the week ended March 21, 2020, but all other major segments had huge gains. Unit sales jumped 60% in juvenile fiction led by Jeff Kinney’s Rowley Jefferson’s Awesome Friendly Spooky Stories, which sold more than 46,000 copies in its first week on sale. Young adult fiction sales soared 64.7%, as They Both Die in the End by Adam Silvera remained #1 in the category, selling over 16,000 copies.
Both adult categories had big sales jumps. Adult nonfiction units soared 52.9% over 2020, driven by the release of five titles that landed in five of the six top spots on the category bestseller list. Don Lemon’s This is the Fire was #1, selling more than 30,000 copies. Giada De Laurentis’s Eat Better, Feel, Better was in third place, selling more than 25,000 copies.
Harlan Coben’s Win landed in the top spot on the adult fiction list, selling over 32,000 copies. Units in the category increased 33.8%.