Books: Good News & Bad News

Recently, I read some updated statistics offered by the Making Information Pay Conference sponsored by the Book Industry Study Group. Like most stats about book writing, reading, and publishing, I found them interesting in light of our down economy. (I think I'm going to find another phrase to describe our sagging economy since the one I used is such a cliche.)

The Good News

In the last five years, according to Nielsen BookScan, the bible for some authors looking for sales figures and trends, over the previous 5 year period, sales of adult nonfiction were up overall 11.1% .

Travel Books: Increased sales in the previous five years by 516%.

Biography and Autobiography: Rose 34.1% with sales of personal memoirs up 567%, cultural heritage up 175%, and political biographies up 56%.

Business: Increased by 19.4%. In the business category during the previous five years, personal finance had increased by 122%, economics and general business by 351%, finance by 103%, and investments and securities by 117%.

Self Help: Over the last five years, spiritual books were up 224%, books about mood disorders rose 108%, general personal growth books increased 183%, and motivational and inspirational books increased 51%.

Adult Fiction: Overall, books sales of adult fiction increased by 8.9% during the past five years. (In case you didn't know, fiction is always a harder sell than nonfiction.)

General Fiction: up 23.3%. Graphic novels: up 52.7%. Mystery and detective genre declined 12.7%. Literary fiction increased 86.1%. Historical fiction up 24.1%. Political fiction (I sometimes think anything about politics and politicians is fiction.) up 157.7%.

The Bad News

In the current year, adult nonfiction sales are down 8%, but books on cooking still rose 4.8%, humor rose 8.9%, and biography rose 7.5%. The drops were in travel books, 18.7%; business and economics, 10.1%; and autobiography 3.4%.

In adult fiction, romance is up 1.5%, but Mystery/Detective fell by 19.8%.

Children's book sales increased by nearly 9% in the 1Q 2009 with Children's Fiction up 10.4% and nonfiction up 2.5%.

My Spin

So what does all this mean? It means that some books are selling increased numbers and other sales are decreasing. You can put your own spin on the facts. Here's my spin. We're in a melancholy economy. (That's my new phrase for our sagging situation.) Consumers are being more cautious in how they spend their money in all areas. That's why some nonfiction books like travel books aren't selling as well. People aren't traveling as much.

On the other hand, books on cooking are selling because more people are cooking at home instead of ordering take out or eating out. Humor books are up because people feel a need to laugh when times can seem grim.

The power house of romance fiction showed increased sales because not only is it perennially popular but also more people tend to want happy ever after stories when times are tough. Mystery and Detective novels may be down because people don't want to read about crime when their pension plans have been hijacked by greedy corporations. Unless maybe it's a greedy corporate mogul who gets his just desserts.

Children's book sales increased a lot though part of that is fueled by the paranormal books of Stephanie Meyer, or so I've read. I don't actually consider her books for children though the publishing business does because they are about high school kids. In today's world, a high school kid is far more sophisticated than I and my peers were in high school I suppose.

Takeaway Truth

Look to other depressions and recessions, and you'll see that people actually read more than in previous "up" economies. Get a book. Try it. Bet you like it.

1 comment:

  1. I think libraries are also seeing an increase in readership. It's a great way to keep reading without sacrificing the budget, especially when you want to try a new author or new genre.