Publishers Inch Toward Breaking Even with 2018 Sales (

Through the first nine months of 2019, unit sales of print books were down 1.4% compared to the same period in 2018 at outlets that report to NPD BookScan. Unit sales of all adult titles fell 1.5%, while print sales of juvenile books were down just 0.3%.

The adult nonfiction segment was expected to have a difficult time matching last year’s sales, particularly in the first part of the year, since it was facing tough comparisons with the host of books about the Trump administration that were big hits early in 2018. Indeed, sales in the history/law/political science category were down 13.9% from last year, when Fire and Fury, Fear, and A Higher Loyalty combined to sell more than 2.3 million copies through September. The top-selling political title so far in 2019 is Mark Levin’s Unfreedom of the Press, which has sold about 368,700 copies. Scribner’s version of the Mueller Report sold nearly 298,000 copies, putting it in 20th place on the bestselling books so far this year.

Helping to somewhat offset the decline in the sales of political books was the 6.3% increase in unit sales posted by the biography/autobiography/memoir category, where Michelle Obama’s Becoming, released in November 2018, has sold just over one million copies so far in 2019, making it the second-biggest print seller in the year and the top-selling title in the nonfiction category. Three other adult nonfiction titles cracked the top 10 bestselling books in the year to date: Educated by Tara Westover sold nearly 690,000 copies, while Rachel Hollis had two books that combined to sell nearly 1.2 million copies.

Adult fiction sales fell 3.5% in January–September 2019 compared to the first nine months of 2018, despite the blockbuster success of Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens, which sold 1.4 million copies this year so far, making it the #1 title of 2019. In second place on the adult fiction list was Heather Morris’s The Tattooist of Auschwitz, which sold about 505,000 copies.
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