Dav Pilkey, the 2019 PW Person of the Year, continued his yearslong remarkable sales performance in 2021. Pilkey boasted three of the year’s top 25 bestselling print books overall and five of the top 25 on the children’s print list, and was #1 overall with the 10th and latest entry in his Dog Man series, Mothering Heights, with sales nearing 1.3 million. Jeff Kinney, of Diary of a Wimpy Kid fame, also placed three books on the list, including Big Shot, the 16th Wimpy Kid entry, at #3 overall. Juvenile fiction sales did well last year in general, posting a 9.6% increase over 2020 at outlets that report to NPD BookScan.
At #2 on the list was American Marxism, the latest from conservative radio and Fox News host Mark R. Levin, which sold just over a million copies. It was the only work of political nonfiction to crack the overall top 25, a possible indication of change in reading habits. The subcategory was particularly popular during the Trump era on both sides of the aisle, but failed to produce the same number of hits last year. (2020 saw several political nonfiction titles among the top 25 bestsellers, including autobiographies by Barack and Michelle Obama and books by Mary L. Trump, former national security adviser John Bolton, Fox News pundit Sean Hannity, and political journalist Bob Woodward—not to mention multiple books on issues of racial discrimination and white supremacy.)
Other notable bestsellers this year included Charlie Mackesy’s The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse, Barnes & Noble’s 2019 Book of the Year, which sold more than 120,000 more copies in 2021 than it did in 2020, and The Hill We Climb by Amanda Gorman, the poem read at the inauguration of President Joe Biden, which was the only poetry title to crack the top 25, selling nearly 552,000 copies.
This year, only two books sold more than one million print copies—compared to seven last year, including Barack Obama’s A Promised Land, which sold more than 2.5 million copies.