Unit sales of print books rose 1.3% in 2018 over 2017 at outlets that report to NPD BookScan. According to BookScan, which tracks 80% to 85% of print sales, units topped 695 million in the 52-week period ended December 29 compared to 686.9 million in 2017. Print book sales have been trending upward, albeit at a slow pace, since 2013. The modest 2018 gain was driven by the adult nonfiction segment. Not only did political books pile up big sales last year, but Michelle Obama’s Becoming was 2018’s runaway bestseller, selling 3.4 million copies at outlets that report to BookScan. A total of five books sold more than 1 million print copies in 2018, all of which were frontlist titles. In 2017, the two top selling books were backlist titles, Wonder by R.J. Palacio and Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur.
Publishers reacted with a mixture of dismay, confusion and surprise at news the New York Times has eliminated a number of its print and online bestseller lists, effective February 5.
Although it is still unclear exactly which lists have been dropped, the NYT has confirmed that the bestseller lists for graphic novels and manga, as well as the lists for mass market paperbacks, middle-grade e-books, teen e-books have been eliminated.
The NYT said the cuts were part of an overall plan to evaluate and revamp its book publishing coverage and, in a statement, emphasized it planned “to cover all of these genres of books in our news coverage (in print and online).”
Nevertheless, many publishers were blindsided by the changes, which were not announced or discussed in advance. Many publishers discovered the lists would be dropped only when they received the New York Times Advanced BSL edition for Feb. 5, which only noted that “there will be revisions to multiple categories in the publication.”
Steven Zacharius,CEO of Kensington Publishing, which publishes hundreds of mass market titles each year, called the decision “enormously troubling.” Zacharius said dropping the mass market list “effects sales, and not having this list will hurt authors tremendously.” Other large trade book publishers found the cuts perplexing and were particularly dismayed because they were not informed in advance.
The elimination of the graphic novel and manga lists, in particular, was met with outrage and expressions of frustration from the comics and graphic novel community.
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