As a bookseller, one of the fun aspects of our job is identifying trends that we notice from within the broad spectrum of accounts Book Depot works with. While some of the trends may be unique to one account’s particular industry or location, others may be considered on a larger scale and are applicable to all the accounts we work with. As sales people, we may not always be right when it comes to our intuitions, though I must confess it’s always fun trying to keep up with the times and knowing what our customers like best!
To name a few examples, we could look at the Who Is/Who Was series that has been a great success within recent years. If you were to look at our sales history for these titles, you would find that they have been popular within libraries, educational retailers/distributors, and children’s book fair industries. Another example is to look at stores that focus on music and pop-culture. Obvious trends you might notice are musicians who are growing in popularity, or perhaps you might see increased sales with books relating to a movie when it is released in theatres.
I’m sure by this point, you get where I am going in regard to trends, but what about the less obvious ones? It can be more difficult to discover trends when you aren’t looking at an overall category, though the insight to be found is all the more intriguing. As a brief synopsis, I’ve compiled some interesting trends that I’ve researched from within the book industry. While these trends may not be accurate to every book retailer, hopefully you’ll find these examples as interesting to read as I did. Furthermore, if there are any trends you’ve noticed in your own stores, we’d love to hear from you by commenting below the article!
Anxiety / Finding Happiness
One of the more interesting reports recently is that sales analysis at Barnes & Noble reported a 26% increase in sales of books that are relating to anxiety.1 Conversely, books about finding happiness have grown by a substantial 83% within one year. While there’s numerous opinions and reasons as to why this may be happening, it’s a good reflection as to the motivation people have for self-improvement.
Horror Sales at Four-Year High
TV shows such as Stranger Things and movies such as Stephen King’s IT are being credited with helping titles with horror and ghostly subject matter reach a four-year high in the UK.2 I’ve found it difficult to find similar data pertaining to Canada or the United States, though my personal observations would align with this. At Book Depot, we’ve been fortunate to regularly receive some of Stephen King’s greatest works; however, as you can imagine, they tend to sell quickly!
Rise of the Independent Bookstore
According to the American Book Association, there was a 35% increase of independent book stores opening between 2009 and 2015.3 This has driven the total number of independent bookstores to an excess of 2,300 in total as noted by the ABA.
Though this news is not necessarily new, I thought this was worth noting as it’s a great indication of the overall health of our industry. Book Depot has welcomed working with independent bookstores from all corners of the globe, and we always find it interesting to see the unique and regional selections they choose to purchase when working with us.
Increased Collaboration Between the Comic & Gaming Industries
While there is no doubting the size of the gaming community, there may be a wave or movement to capitalize on the substantial size of the industry by having more comics-oriented publishers collaborate with gaming developers. Sales of comics and graphic novels totalled an estimated $1 billion revenue in North America in 2017, while data according to SuperData Research puts the total for video gaming in excess of $108 billion.4 Though some of those developers may already have a published brand, others who do not may seek to close the gap between the value of the comic/graphic novel industry versus that of video games.
Soaring Popularity for Political Books
With the incredible sales driven by James Comey’s A Higher Loyalty (over 600,000 copies sold in its first week) and Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury (over 2,200,000 copies sold so far this year), it should come as no surprise that the adult nonfiction segment has reported an increase of 4% during the first half of 2018.5 Books that are political in nature have taken center stage through much of this year and intriguingly enough, this popularity has crossed categories into both the children’s and fiction categories respectively, while titles such as A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo (by John Oliver) and The President in Missing (a collaboration by James Patterson and Bill Clinton) have topped the charts.
As there are more books yet to be released by both Michelle and Barack Obama later this year, all indications are that this trend won’t be slowing down anytime soon.
Poetry in the United Kingdom
Reports from the UK note that there has been an increase of 66% in poetry book sales over the past five years.6 According to a survey by Taking Part Survey, 3.1% of the adult population in England wrote their own form of poetry in 2015/2016.
View our poetry book selection here.
STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) Making Its Rounds Internationally
General feedback being shared from book fairs such as the Taipei Book Fair and Bologna Book Fair are indicating that there has been a growing trend towards books relating to STEM subjects. From my own observation, I’ve seen numerous accounts taking a focus on this type of title. In particular, this has been evident with titles we have by Miles Kelly, but also with reading series such as the earlier mentioned Who Is series, as well as titles within the Ready to Read, I Can Read, Penguin Young Readers and other reading series that are similar in nature.
1 Green, Dennis. 2018. Barnes & Noble says books about anxiety are trending because ‘we may be living in an anxious nation’. August 1. Accessed August 31, 2018. https://www.businessinsider.com/barnes-and-noble-anxiety-book-sales-trending-2018-8.
2 Lyons, Izzy. 2018. Horror fiction sales at four-year high after a glut of supernatural series and films. July 14. Accessed August 2018, 2018. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/07/14/horrorfictionsales-four-year-high-glut-supernatural-series-films/.
3 Raffaelli, Ryan, interview by Paddy Hirsch. 2018. Why The Number Of Independent Bookstores Increased During The ‘Retail Apocalypse’ (March 29). Accessed August 31, 2018. https://www.npr.org/2018/03/29/598053563/why-the-number-of-independent-bookstores-increased-during-the-retail-apocalypse.
4 Salkowitz, Rob. 2018. Ready Reader One: Game Developers Look Toward Comics. August 10. Accessed August 31, 2018. https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/comics/article/77744-ready-reader-one-game-developers-look-toward-comics.html.
5 Milliot, Jim. 2018. Print Unit Sales Rose 2% in First Half of 2018. July 6. Accessed August 31, 2018. https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/financial-reporting/article/77441-print-unit-sales-rose-2-in-first-half-of-2018.html.
6 Onwuemezi, Natasha. 2018. Poetry sales are booming, LBF hears. April 13. Accessed August 31, 2018. https://www.thebookseller.com/news/poetry-summit-766826.