PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y., March 23, 2020 – Book sales in the United States increased 0.7 percent year-to-date, through the week ending March 14, 2020, reaching 123 million units. However, weekly book sales declined 10 percent over the previous week as consumers adjusted their shopping behavior in the face of widespread social distancing directives. While the ongoing threat from the global coronavirus pandemic is keeping more families at home these days, book sales in several publishing categories appear to be benefitting from more people staying home, according to The NPD Group.
Based on the latest information from NPD BookScan, sales of juvenile non-fiction education, reference, and language books in the U.S. have risen 12 percent year to date vs. the same time period last year, and 38 percent during the week ending March 14, 2020. Top-selling titles include “Big Kindergarten,” and “Big Preschool,” from School Zone Publishing.
“With more schools closing temporarily due to COVID-19, and with many parents now working from home, we are definitely seeing an uptick in kids’ educational and activity book sales this week,” said Kristen McLean, books industry analyst for NPD. “Leading topics include math, language arts, puzzles, sticker books, word games, geometry, study aids, and coloring books.”
Books focused on home-life subjects are also rising, as more Americans stay indoors to protect themselves and others. Books related to cooking methods specific to canning and preserving grew 29 percent, week over week, and 17 percent for the year-to-date week-ending March 14, 2020. Container gardening book sales have grown 30 percent this week over last, and general home do-it-yourself (DIY) book sales increased by 8 percent, week over week. Top-selling books in these categories include the following: “The Complete Book of Home Preserving,” by Judi Kingry (Firefly Books); “How to Window Box,” by Chantal Aida Gordon (Penguin Random House), and “How Your House Works,” by Charlie Wing (Wiley).
While home and education-centered books are posting big gains during the pandemic, other categories have not been as fortunate. Sales of books related to travel, health and fitness, self-help, and personal growth have all declined, as people stay home and prioritize other topics and creative pursuits. “Two weeks ago, we saw a distinct drop in travel related books in Europe,” McLean said. “This past week, there’s also been a decline in U.S. travel books and adventure-travel titles. Books buying presents an interesting window into consumer psychology at moments like this. We will continue to track book trends weekly as the situation continues to evolve.”
About NPD BookScan
NPD BookScan is the gold standard in point-of-sale tracking for the publishing market, covering approximately 85 percent of all the print books sold in the U.S. through direct reporting from all major retailers including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Walmart, Target, independent bookstores, and many others. Each sale of the more than 16 million units tracked on a weekly basis includes geographic information making it possible to identify key markets, map regional sales trends, and index the likelihood of purchase in 200 major metro areas. NPD BookScan is also the exclusive provider of ALR data for Barnes & Noble, Target, Walmart, and Sam’s Club to U.S. publishers.