The streak is over. The long run of unit sales of print books posting weekly sales gains over the comparable week in 2020 came to an end last week, with units falling 1.3% compared to the week ending July 11, 2020, at outlets that report to NPD BookScan.
The decline is the result of continued pressure on nonfiction sales, particularly adult nonfiction, the industry’s largest category. Print sales fell 10.2% compared to a year ago in adult nonfiction. Last year at this time, books on race and social justice spurred by the #blackoutbestsellerlist campaign continued to sell in large numbers, taking up six of the top ten slots at the time. And John Bolton’s The Room Where It Happened, which was #1 on the category bestseller list, sold nearly 57,000 copies in the comparable week last year.
Last week, How I Saved the World by Fox News host Jesse Watters was #1 on the category list (and the top-selling title overall), selling just under 34,000 copies in its first week on sale. Two other new books hit the top 10 adult nonfiction list, though they sold in much smaller numbers than the top 10 titles did a year ago. Danny Trejo’s Trejo: My Life of Crime, Redemption, and Hollywood, sold more than 12,000 copies in its first week, while This is Your Mind on Plants by Michael Pollan sold over 11,000 copies.
The other nonfiction categories also had sales declines last week. Juvenile nonfiction sales fell 13.5%, as sales in all subcategories fell from a year ago. Young adult nonfiction dropped 15.3%.
While nonfiction sales struggled with comparisons to 2020, adult fiction had no such problem. Print units increased 22.1% over the comparable week a year ago, helped by the release of several new bestsellers. Danielle Steel’s Nine Lives sold just over 24,000 copies in its first week, putting it in second place on the bestseller list. Miranda Cowley Heller’s novel The Paper Palace sold nearly 23,000 copies in its first week, and Falling by TJ. Newman’s sold over 22,000 copies in its debut.
Juvenile fiction sales fell 2.3% in the week despite a new #1 seller in the segment, Cut to the Chase, the 13th volume in Aaron Blabey’s Bad Guys series, sold over 28,000 copies (last year at this time, the 11th book in the series, Dawn of the Underlord, sold 29,000 copies).