Fiction rode to the rescue again to lift up unit sales of print books 6.4% last week over the week ended June 27, 2020, at outlets that report to NPD BookScan. Adult fiction sales increased 28.1%, young adult fiction sales jumped 49.6%, and juvenile fiction sales were up 11.2% over last year. The jumps offset continued weakness in adult nonfiction, the industry’s biggest category, where sales fell 8.7%.
The big gain in adult fiction unit sales was notable since the increase was achieved without any new releases making a splash. The President’s Daughter by James Patterson and Bill Clinton remained #1 on the category list, selling more than 30,000 copies. Two books released early this spring had good weeks: People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry, released on May 11, sold over 21,000 copies, good enough for fourth place on the adult fiction list; and Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid, which came out on June 1, was fifth on the list, selling over 18,000 copies.
The young adult fiction sales gain was also accomplished without the benefit of a new hit. In a recent webinar, NPD’s Kristen McLean noted that an important contributor to the success of the YA category this year has been #BookTok, which has sent books highlighted by users—and especially backlist books—“to the bestseller lists and kept them there.” Two books she pointed to, They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera and We Were Liars by E. Lockhart, were first and second on this week’s category list, selling over 17,000 copies and nearly 9,000 copies, respectively.
The juvenile fiction category’s sales increase in the week was due in part to a new book. Alice Schertle’s Time for School, Little Blue Truck was #1 in the category, selling just over 24,000 copies.
The decline in adult nonfiction sales last week was due to a combination of factors from last year in the comparable week. One was John Bolton’s Trump blockbuster, The Room Where It Happened, which sold more than 221,000 copies in its first week on sale; the other was the big sales numbers for a number of books on race and social justice. Last week, Speechless by Michael Knowles was #1 in the category, selling about 17,500 copies.
Juvenile nonfiction was the only nonfiction category were sales rose compared to the week ended June 27, 2020. That increase, 6%, was aided by the publication of Dude Perfect 101 Tricks, Tips and Cool Stuff by Dude Perfect sold more than 46,000 copies in its first week on sale, making it the #1 selling book in the country last week.