Print Units Post Surprising Increase in First Half of 2020 (

In what is perhaps the biggest surprise in publishing since the Covid-19 pandemic sent the U.S. economy into turmoil this spring, print unit sales saw a 2.8% increase in the first half of 2020, over the comparable period in 2019, at outlets that report to NPD BookScan. The number of copies sold was 322.1 million in the six-month period, up from 313.5 million in the first half of 2019.

The increase was led by a combination of children’s nonfiction books aimed at helping parents educate and entertain their children following the closing of most schools in March, as well as a spike in sales of books on race relations and social justice following the killing of George Floyd by members of the Minneapolis police department in late May. The juvenile nonfiction segment had the biggest gain in the first half of the year, with units jumping 25.5% over 2019. The sales leader in the category was My First Learn-to-Write Workbook by Crystal Radke, which sold more than 379,000 copies, placing the $8.99 workbook in ninth place on the overall bestseller list in the first half of the year. The strongest subcategories within the segment were education/reference/language, which had a 64.6% jump, and games/activities/hobbies, where unit sales increased 41.2%
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