Barely a quarter of the way into 2016 we’re seeing book numbers skyrocket. This is reason enough to rejoice and treat yourself to a book splurge, especially since it’s the first increase we’ve seen in five years. The rise started in 2015, when sales of print books rose by 8.5%, but all we could attribute to a ‘why’ was a rising interest in nonfiction. What exactly is this nonfiction savior that’s bolstering book sales?
Looking deeper it’s not simply a broad interest in nonfiction, but a number of specific trends within the genre that are captivating reader’s minds and wallets alike.
The eBook Plateau
Image courtesy of Critical Voter
The trajectory of eBook sales have not turned out as expected. rather than rise from 50% of total book sales to a predicted 60%, they churned out only 25% of total sales in 2015. This is a big problem for Kindles, Nooks, and the entire legion of print book eating devices. However, it’s great news for physical books.James Daunt, CEO of the UK bookshop Waterstones, attributes this to a general rise in economic welfare: more bucks, more books. People who would traditionally buy books before economic downturn are once again hitting the bookstores. And with the digital transformation of books now stabilizing, eBooks don’t hold the same ‘new’ appeal they once did.
The Rise of Adult Coloring Books
Image courtesy of Pinterest
Although not traditionally thought of as nonfiction, technically coloring books fit the mold. Although unusual to be considered literature, given the lack of substantive writing, these books most definitely are, and are most definitely contributing to rising sales.
Rather than interpolating the reader into a book, the coloring provides a canvas for users to unload stress and find a calm presence removed from phone and computer screens. Although they lack the literary merit of other sub-genres, they are a unique fix to the ubiquitous problem of overstimulation, plus, a boom to the book industry.
A Preference for Artistry
Finally, a token of gratitude for the all too frequently disparaged millennial. Known more widely for being tech-savvy and poor with critique, millennials are also contributing to rising book sales. The millennial group, for all their less favourable traits, is characterized by a creative interest in aesthetics and artistry. Recently, and in 2016 especially, we’ve seen more beautifully crafted book covers, and more importantly, featured on mainstream books. Whether the visual draw of the cover or the artistry just behind it (in all likelihood both), these types of books are gaining traction in the market and emerging center stage as must-haves for book buyers. According to Bookseller editor, Philip Jones, these books have a particular affinity for the “hipster breed” of millennials.
The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Boom
It’s not surprising that the popularity of sci-fi and fantasy in TV and film has translated to a popularity in literature. If you’ve hopped on the Game of Thrones bandwagon, chances are you’ve read some of the books or have a friend, co-worker, or sweet little grandmother who’s gaga for George R.R. Martin. In tandem with Game of Thrones, this year we also saw a resurgent interest in sci-fi, leading up to and following the release of the latest Star Wars film. The genre’s move from the pulp fringes to popular fiction has brought the genre center stage, and with it significant sales for booksellers.
An Interest in Diversity
Image courtesy of Oif
In addition to specific types of reads, we’re also interested in specific types of writers. Perhaps it’s just another rippling effect of growing neo-liberalist values, but diversity has been huge in the book market. It will even be the theme of this year’s Banned Books Week.
Beyond an interest in author diversity, the past few years have also championed publisher diversity. In 2015, the National Book Award’s young writer prize, 5 Under 35, featured a new breed of publishers. Rather than the usual household names, titles came from the Dorothy Project, Ig Publishing, and other agencies that operate on the skirts of major publishing houses. This doesn’t necessarily draw readers away from the large publishers they trust, but it does open up the door to new reading ventures and a new credibility for smaller publishers.
These and many other trends have all worked to buoy sales and make all book lovers grin ear to ear. We love our books just as much as any other bookworm, and we’re thrilled to see print on the rise!
Featured image courtesy of La Artistina.