Despite the closure of bookshops across the globe during the pandemic, many countries have seen a huge surge in book sales, particularly online. The UK reached an eight-year record, selling over 200 million books in 2020 according to Neilson BookScan and the US saw a market growth of 8.2% in 2020 with 750.89 million sales, the highest since 2010.
But it’s not just the UK and US who have seen record sales. Alicia Liu, from Singing Grass, spoke about the significant growth of China’s children’s market over the last year, at the International Publishing Forum. During the 618 Online Shopping Festival in June 2020, sales of children’s books increased by 43%. Alongside children’s books, the most successful titles were about Chinese heritage and self-improvement.
According to Lisanna Mathijssen of HarperCollins Holland, the Dutch publishing market has steadily grown and was up 6% in 2020. The most popular genres during the pandemic were non-fiction books by Dutch celebrities, translated fiction and local literary fiction. There was also a rise in Mills & Boon sales and mass-market paperbacks as people generally craved light, escapist fiction.
The French market was down 20% in 2020 as Sarah Rigaud from Les Escales explained at the IPG forum. One of the main reasons for this was the sudden halt in online sales when Amazon could not deliver books. Consequently, publishers had to cut translated fiction because contrary to the Dutch, French readers tend to solely read in their native language and not English too. Feminst books are becoming increasingly popular in France, particularly after the publication of Consent by Annabel Lyon in September 2020.
Digital sales should continue to thrive in 2021 as many consumers who shopped online in 2020 will continue to do so this year. Let’s hope the overall market continues to improve and we have another great year for books!