A new report from BookNet Canada, the organization that compiles sales and other data about Canadian publishing, shows book sales for the first six months of 2021 were much stronger than 2020, but have not yet reached the level seen in 2019.
According to BookNet, print sales for the first six months of 2021 rose 11.2% over the comparable period in 2020, rising to C$463 million ($370 million) while unit sales increased 7.6%, to 22.5 million units. Still, sales in the period were approximately C$15 million and a 1 million units shy of 2019's figures for the same time last year.
Canadian bookstores, particularly those in Ontario, suffered one of the longest lock-downs in the world but began reopening in the spring, prompting a sales surge which saw sales in March and April 2021 well ahead of those in 2020 and 2019, according to the report.
Children's and young adult books accounted for 42% of all print book sales in the Canadian English-language trade market, up from its 41% share for the same period in 2020. This was followed by nonfiction at 30% of sales and fiction at 27%. Sales of frontlist titles accounted for 27% of sales -- up three percentage points from 2020 -- and several categories showed strong growth, including comics and graphic novels, (up 92%, with the manga category seeing significant increases of 145%), poetry (up 81%) , psychology (up 84%), and YA fantasy (up 129%).
The bestselling Canadian title was The Push by Ashley Audrain (Penguin Random House Canada).