The pace of change in our world is accelerating. Change, like a ball rolling downhill, gathers momentum as rolls. The speed at which information doubles is getting faster and faster. Experts report that the information doubling speed has now reached every one to two years.
The book publishing and selling industry is not immune from rapid change. Staying abreast of the trends in the book industry is useful for helping you know the challenges and to develop plans and programs for overcoming these challenges in selling books.
Book Sales by Category for 2019
After small annual gains over the past few years, unit sales of print books dipped 1.3% in 2019 compared to 2018 at outlets that report to NPD BookScan, which tracks 80% to 85% of print sales. Here is the breakdown of print book sales by category for 2019:
Adult Nonfiction: sales fell 1%
- Self-Help: sales rose 11.4%
- Juvenile Nonfiction: sales rose 4.5%
Adult Fiction: sales fell 2.9%
- Graphic Novels: sales rose 16.1%
- Science Fiction: sales fell 19.7%
- Westerns: sales fell 17.2%
- Romance: sales fell 12.4%
- Mystery / Detective: sales fell 3.5%
Print sales of science fiction and romance have seen annual double-digit declines since the advent of ebooks. These books are still selling well in digital format.
Personal Growth Books Popular
The Self-Help or Personal Growth category has experienced continued growth over the past six years. In fact, it has nearly doubled in size since 2013.
Industry experts report that this is not just a U.S. or Western phenomenon. A similar trend can be seen in China where self-help—especially positive personality imaging and self-worth books—are showing up on the bestseller lists.
The publishing industry is crowded. Whenever a book category becomes popular many publishers and authors jump on it. As a result, the number of Personal Growth titles published has outpaced the rate of the sales growth in this category.
Indeed, the number of ISBNs assigned to books in this category rose from 30,897 in 2013 to 85,253 in 2019. That is more than the 11% annual growth rate this category has seen.
Good News and Bad News
The good news is that if you are an author of a Self-Help / Personal Growth book, people are reading books in this category. People are yearning for meaning, peace, and calm amidst the trials of life. Your book fills a need.
The bad news is that the competition is fierce. Just because Personal Growth books are selling well does not mean that your book will fly off the shelves. People have to first hear about your book. Then they have to trust you as the author to buy the book. Marketing is required.
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Image courtesy of Criativithy.