Unit sales of print books increased 12.4% in the week ended May 1, 2021, over the comparable period in 2020 at outlets that report to NPD BookScan. The increase came even as sales began rebounding at this time last year. In fact, for the week ended May 2, 2020, unit sales rose 5.5% over the week ended May 4, 2019.
The adult fiction category had another big week, with unit sales up 22.3% over the week ended May 2, 2020. Within the category, graphic novels continued to stand out, with sales soaring 203% over the comparable week in 2020. It was two longtime bestselling authors that topped the category bestseller list, however: John Grisham's Sooley sold more than 64,000 copies in its first week on sale, making it #1, followed by Danielle Steel's Finding Ashley, which sold over 28,000 copies.
Young adult fiction unit sales more than doubled in the week, led by six titles by Leigh Bardugo among the category's top 10 bestsellers. Shadow and Bone, the basis for a Netflix series that began streaming in late April, sold nearly 22,000 copies. The other five Bardugo titles in the top 10 sold a combined total of about 44,000 copies.
Adult nonfiction unit sales rose 8.9% over 2020. What Happened to You? by Oprah Winfrey and Bruce D. Perry was #1 on the category list, selling more than 44,000 copies in its first week on sale. Other new titles that hit high on the category list were Your Are Your Best Thing by Tarana Burke, which sold almost 25,000 copies, and Clarity & Connection by Yung Pueblo, which sold over 22,000 copies. In general, subcategories that were performing poorly a year ago were seeing solid gains last week. Travel continued to bounce back, with units up 139% over 2020, and business/economic sales increased 37.3%, for example.
Juvenile nonfiction sales continued to decline, falling 15.2% compared to the week ended May 2, 2020. For the year to date, sales in the segment are now flat with the comparable period last year.
Unit sales of all print books were up 26% through May 1 compared to the same period in 2020.