There is a train of thought that physical books are going the way of the cassette tape, but one thing covid-19 has highlighted is people’s desire to delve into an engaging page-turner has not waned.
In fact, reading as a pastime has come back with a resurgence!
The sale of physical books has been on the rise globally since 2013 and as more people stay home to save lives, they are once more reaching for books as a means of escaping or even upskilling.
It is not surprising to see 10 of the top 20 bestsellers on Amazon Australia at the end of April are non-fiction books that offer a little bit of salacious political gossip (Malcom Turnbull’s A Bigger Picture), tips and advice on investing (The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham, Scott Pape’s The Barefoot Investor, Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad Poor Dad) and the rest made up of books about social connection and life.
What constitutes a bestseller is subjective to the times, so seeing the likes of Pape and Kiyosaki back in the top 20 is understandable. Interestingly in the American Amazon charts, John Barry’s 2005 release The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History shot back into the top 20, reaching #13 as people become intrigued about events of the past that have any sort of similarity to what the world is experiencing right now.
With no print copies available at the time the book began to peak in popularity, the publisher would have been rushing a print run to cater for the surge in demand!
According to NPD BookScan Data, book sales are up 600% for some categories. The category of Language Arts and Disciplines is up by 764%! People are turning to books once more to gain credible information and knowledge.
The Smithosonian Magazine reports another success story in the form of Tony Ross, whose book I Don’t Want to Wash My Hands, which teaches children about hand hygiene has seen a 2000% rise in sales.
The Guardian has reported a 6% rise in total book sales across the UK as people have extra time on their hands and rediscover a love of reading.
In the United States, sales of books covering gardening, cooking and general DIY are on the rise. Education books have also enjoyed great success of late. But not every category is a winner in these times.
NPD reports the sale of travel and adventure travel titles have declined as people stay home.
While ebooks and audiobooks continue to provide readers with more ways to consume books and remain a popular choice, but it is pleasing to see a lot of readers are also doing what they can to support their local book stores and are tapping in to those who are offering postal services.
What does this latest book boom mean for authors?
For some, it’s a chance to bank on the opportunity to showcase their work and capture new readers. For others, like Barry and Ross, it’s an unexpected yet very welcome boost back into the bestselling ranks for a global audience.
What does it mean for aspiring authors?
It just goes to show that releasing your book isn’t a one-time opportunity to make or break the success of your book. If you have the right marketing mind and know how to seize moments as they arise, you can potentially see multiple eras of success for one book.
Reading physical books is not a pastime of history, people are very much still deriving a lot of pleasure from picking up a book and flipping through the pages to learn and grow from the experience.
So, what pearls of wisdom or nuggets of knowledge do you have to share with your future readers?