Sales of adult books shot up 35.4% in November over last year's sales at publishers that supply data to AAP’s StatShot program. The increase was driven by the November release of Barack Obama’s A Promised Land, which was the #1 selling title in 2020.
The gain also likely reflects success in getting customers to shop early for the holidays, as sales of children/young adult books rose nearly 31% over November 2019, and religion book sales increased almost 42%. Overall, sales rose 24.5% in November compared to 2019, at the 1,354 publishers who report data to AAP.
Within the adult category, sales of hardcovers—the format for A Promised Land—soared 64.5%, and trade paperback sales jumped 42.4%. Sales of physical audiobooks, on a steady downward spiral for years, saw sales rise 36.7% in November, while sales of the rapidly-growing digital audio segment fell 3.3%, and e-book sales dipped 0.6%. The rise of physical audio—which make for much better gifts than downloadable audio, seeing as they are wrappable—and the decline of digital books is another indication of early holiday shopping.
In the children/YA segment, sales of hardcovers led the way, up 42.5%.
For the first 11 months of 2020, book sales were up 0.8% at the companies that report to AAP. The adult book segment had the largest gain, up 11.7% over the comparable period in 2019. Sales of children/YA rose 7.2%, and sales in the religious category increased 4%.
The K-12 instructional materials category were down 20% in the first 11 months of 2020, while sales of higher educational course material inched up 1.2%. University press sales were up 2.6% in the period, and professional book sales rose 2.3%.