Even though no adult coloring book sold as well in 2016 as the bestsellers in 2015 did, the adult nonfiction category, which includes those titles, posted the biggest unit gains among the major print categories last year, according to data from Nielsen BookScan. Units in the crafts/hobbies/antiques/games segment led the increase, with units jumping 75% over 2015. That increase was due mainly to the sheer number of new adult coloring books released in 2016; there were 3,500 adult coloring book ISBNs issued in 2016, a 108% increase from 2015, and unit sales rose 48%.
Other genres within adult nonfiction that had double-digit unit gains in the year were self-help and religion/Bibles, which both had 13% increases, and the relatively small arts segment, in which units rose 12%. In self-help, the increase was due in part to the tremendous success of You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero, which sold almost 458,000 copies last year. The religion/Bibles area was led by two Sarah Young books, Jesus Calling and Jesus Always, which sold a total of more than 961,000 copies last year. The segment also benefited from the inclusion of sales from Family Christian Stores, which did not report results to BookScan in 2015.
The art/architecture genre had the biggest unit drop of the year within adult nonfiction, with units down 18% from 2015. The area is home to many adult coloring books. In both 2015 and 2016, the #1 book in the category was Animal Kingdom: Color Me, Draw Me; in 2015, it sold more than 331,000 copies, but the book only sold 133,000 copies last year.
Unit sales rose 4% in the juvenile fiction category in 2016, led by a 17% increase in the science fiction/fantasy/magic genre. Sales in that segment were dominated by J.K. Rowling titles. Her script book, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, was the top title of the year, with 4.4 million units sold, and five other Rowling books were among the segment’s top-10 sellers, with a total of about two million copies sold last year. Units fell in three other genres within the category, with the most significant decline coming in the social situations/family/health area.
The juvenile nonfiction category managed to eke out a 1% unit gain last year, even though units in games/activities/hobbies fell 21%. That decline was partly due to two Johanna Basford adult coloring books, which were part of the segment in 2015, when they sold about 1.5 million copies. The drop in sales in this area was offset by double-digit increases in three others: holidays/festivals/religion, education/reference/language, and animals. My First Read and Learn Bible was the top-selling title in the holidays/festivals/religion genre, selling almost 156,000 copies. The #1 seller in the education/reference/language segment was The Pokemon Deluxe Essential Handbook, which sold more than 407,000 copies. The animals segment was topped by, appropriately enough, Animals, which sold more than 224,000 copies.
Print unit sales fell 1% in adult fiction in 2016, as a number of genres had double-digit declines. While most of the declining areas were those most affected by sales of e-books (such as romance and mystery), unit sales of classics fell 19%. In 2015, the classics genre benefited from the release of Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman, which led to a surge in sales of her To Kill a Mockingbird. Offsetting the declines were a 12% unit sales increase general fiction—the largest fiction area—and an 11% gain in graphic novels.
Unit Sales by Category, 2015–2016 (in thousands)
|House & Home/Gardening||3,212||2,945||-8%|
|Total Adult Nonfiction||258,490||273,589||7%|
|Total Adult Fiction||141,993||140,221||-1%|
|Total Juvenile Nonfiction||54,735||55,456||1%|
|General Juvenile Fiction||49,315||48,913||-1%|
|Total Juvenile Fiction||171,605||178,043||4%|