Last year was definitely a tale of two categories when it came to sales of adult books. Unit sales of fiction titles rose 8.5% over 2021, led by a 52.4% increase in sales of romance books, at outlets that report to NPD BookScan. Five other fiction genres had increases in the year, including a 17.4% jump in sales of fantasy titles. 2021’s hottest adult fiction category, graphic novels, had a 4.6% increase.
It was an entirely different story in adult nonfiction, as sales fell 10.3% in 2022. Only one subcategory—travel—posted an increase in the year, with sales up 13.4%. The biggest decline came in what has been a hot subcategory, history/law/political science, where sales dropped 20.8%.
The list of bestselling romance titles in 2022 is a long one, led by Colleen Hoover, whose It Starts with Us and It Ends with Us topped the romance charts. Those two books, along with a handful of other Hoover titles, resulted in a banner year for Simon & Schuster’s Atria Books imprint and helped S&S sell more the most romance books last year (sales include those of distribution clients as well as in-house imprints).
Sourcebooks was the top-selling non-Big 5 romance publisher. Sourcebooks’ Bloom Books imprint scored with Things We Never Got Over by Lucy Score, which sold more than 330,000 copies, while Elle Kennedy’s The Deal sold more than 130,000 copies. Sourcebooks’ Casablanca imprint sold more than 169,000 copies of Neon Gods by Katee Robert.
A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas was tops in the fantasy category, selling nearly 441,000 copies for publisher Bloomsbury, and her House of Sky and Breath sold nearly 285,000 copies. Maas’s success helped Macmillan, which is Bloomsbury’s distributor, sell the most fantasy books last year.
The big slide in history/law/political science was due in part the lack of a huge bestseller to match 2021’s million-copy-selling American Marxism by Mark R. Levin. The top political book last year was Red Handed: How American Elites Get Rich by Helping China Win by Peter Schweizer, which sold about 245,000 copies. That sales figure was topped in 2021 by American Marxism and Peril by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, which sold more than 390,000 copies.
This story has been updated to correct some erroneous sales totals.