NPD BookScan: US June Print Book Sales Up 2.8 Million Over 2020

In News by Porter Anderson

‘A growth of 2.8 million units over June 2020′ is reported by NPD Books’ Brenna Connor, with a possibility that the American market will go into the autumn with double-digit year-to-date gains.

At New York City’s New Amsterdam Theatre, May 18. Image – Getty iStockphoto: Massimo Giachetti

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

‘A More Stable Seasonal Pattern’
The report today July 12) on the month of June from the NPD Group’s BookScan division (up to the week ending July 3) shows US print book sales increasing by 1.8 million units over the prior five-week period. That’s a growth of 2.8 million units over June 2020.

Year-to-date print unit sales reported by Brenna Connor, NPD Books’ manager for industry insights, are up 60.1 million units over the same period of 2020. They’re up 70.9 million units over the same period in 2019.

“The story in June,” says Connor, “is consistent with the overall trends we watched in May—a return to a more stable seasonal pattern with slightly higher weekly volume and a steadily descending year-to-date.”

Brenna Connor

The promising news from Connor here is, “If we continue to see elevated volume through July, it’s possible that the US print books industry will enter the fall season with double-digit year-to-date gains, and signs are pointing to a strong finish to the year.”

And one of the factors on which she’s basing this potential prospect is something that actually didn’t happen: “The year-to-date performance dropped four points this month,” she says, “from 22 percent through May to 18 percent through June. The big drop we expected to see in week 24, when we comped against last summer’s #BlackoutBestsellerList campaign, didn’t happen.” And that, of course, is good news.

And as for that “steady descent” in the year-to-date figures, on the way back down to what Connor calls “a normal year-to-date,” the market lost four points in June, meaning that in May, sales were up 22 percent, while in June, they were up 18 percent year-to-date. Weekly, the volume continues to outpace 2020 and 2019, Connor says, “but to a lesser degree than we saw earlier in the year.

“June unit sales were 4 percent above June 2020 and up 20 percent over June 2019.”

Topline American market performance for the week ending July 3, 2021, with 386.8 million units year-to-date and an increase of 60.1 million units year-to-date over the same period in 2020. Image: NPD Group

Content Trends in June

In terms of content trends, Connor’s announcement says, “Sales in almost all super-categories were up over the prior five-week period, except for adult nonfiction.”

To that point, adult nonfiction volume dropped more than 1 million units, with religion the category showing the biggest declines in June, followed by self-help.

“Adult fiction posted the highest monthly gains for the second consecutive month, up nearly 2 million units, led by manga, romance, and contemporary women’s” content.

“Juvenile nonfiction sales were up nearly 1 million units driven by study aids and activity books as parents look for ways to help their children make up for lost academic ground this summer. YA volume was up nearly 300,000 units led by #BookTok favorite They Both Die At The End by Adam Silvera (HarperCollins / Quill Tree Books, 2018).

Juvenile fiction sales grew by 200,000 units with newly released titles like Time For School, Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle (HMH / Clarion Books, June) and The Bench by Meghan Markle (Random House Books for Young Readers, June) leading unit gains.

Category and content trends. Notice the downward drift in adult nonfiction in the 24th, 25th, and 26th weeks. Image: NPD Group

More from Publishing Perspectives on industry statistics is here, on the NPD Group and its BookScan reports is here, and on nonfiction is here

More from us on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.