What are the latest statistics on book sales?
In this post, we discuss the latest statistics from the book industry, including trade books, print books, ebooks and audiobooks.
We even share a few statistics on reader trends that you should know.
Let’s get into it.
Editor’s picks – book sales statistics
Here’s a quick roundup of the best statistics from this list:
- By 2025, ebooks will generate $17.7 billion in annual revenue around the world. (Statista8)
- Between 2005 and 2021, print publishing industries saw a decline of over $68 billion in revenue. (Statista2)
- The best-selling book of 2022, It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover, sold over 2.7 million copies. (NPD Bookscan/Publisher’s Weekly2)
- The most popular book category in the United States, nonfiction, sold 289,612 units in 2022. (Statista3)
- Revenue from audiobooks amounted to $1.6 billion in revenue in 2021. (Statista9)
General book sales statistics
1. Book sales amounted to $9.1 billion in revenue in 2022
According to data collected by Statista, revenue for the trade book publishing industry amounted to $9.1 billion in 2021.
For printed books, $3.48 billion of that revenue came from paperback and mass market books while $3.2 billion came from hardcover books.
For ebook and audiobook sales, Ebook sales amounted to $1 billion in revenue while audiobooks accounted for $800 million of the revenue share for books.
2. Revenue for print publishing industries declined by more than $68 billion between 2005 and 2021
According to revenue data collected by Statista on U.S. print publishing industries between 2005 and 2021, revenue has dropped by over $68 billion in the printing industry as a whole over the last 15 years.
Revenue for these industries was $144.31 billion in the United States in 2005 and $144.69 billion the following year.
However, by 2021, revenue dropped to $75.61 billion.
The first biggest drop occurred at the height of The Great Recession. Revenue dropped from $131.62 billion in 2008 to $112.42 billion in 2009.
Revenue has been declining by a few billion dollars each year ever since.
3. Adult nonfiction is the most popular book category in the United States with 289,612 units sold in 2022
Statista’s book sales data, which includes data from 2013 through 2022, shows that unit sales for adult nonfiction amounted to 289,612 units sold in 2022.
For comparison, adult fiction sales included 187,821 units, juvenile fiction moved 187,081 units, juvenile nonfiction moved 65,071, young adult fiction sales included 30,977 units, and young adult nonfiction moved 4,362 units.
Categories marked as “Other” moved 23,694 units in 2022.
Statista’s data also shows that book sales declined from the previous year (2021) in all categories except adult fiction.
Adult nonfiction and juvenile fiction saw the biggest drops in sales.
Average book sales figures for the last three years (2020-2022) of each category are as follows:
- Adult Nonfiction – 307,074 sales
- Juvenile (Children’s) Fiction – 192,104.3 sales
- Adult Fiction – 166,575.7 sales
- Juvenile Nonfiction – 72,063.7 sales
- Young Adult Fiction – 28,609.3 sales
- Young Adult Nonfiction – 4,306.7 sales
- Others – 27,550.3 sales
4. Annual revenue from book store sales declined by $7.8 billion in the United States between 2008 and 2021
Statista’s data on annual book store sales shows that revenue has declined from $16.8 billion in 2008 to $9.03 billion in 2021.
However, we should point out that book stores experienced an all-time low of $6.8 billion in revenue in 2020 due to COVID-19 shutdowns.
Because revenue reached $9.03 billion in 2021, this means that bookstores are starting to recover from COVID-19.
Statista’s data goes back as far as 1992.
The data shows that book stores’ most profitable time period occurred between 2003 and 2008 where revenue consistently reached $16 billion each year.
This is likely due to the Harry Potter franchise releasing films and the final books in the series simultaneously during this time.
5. Data on book store sales shows that sales increased by 4% between 2021 and 2022
Statista’s data on monthly sales statistics for book retailers shows that sales amounted to 863 million in September of 2022.
Sales for book retailers amounted to 829 million in April of 2021.
This means book retailers saw an increase in sales by 4.02% between these months.
This also means that although revenue from the publishing industry and book store sales are declining, book sales still have the potential to increase when the market’s demands are met.
6. RELX Group is the world’s biggest publisher with $5.9 billion in revenue in 2020
According to data from Statista on book publishers, RELX Group was the world’s biggest publisher by revenue in 2020, earning $5.89 billion in revenue that year.
They beat Thomas Reuters and Bertelsmann, who earned $5.13 billion and $5.04 billion in revenue respectively.
They first beat out Pearson for the top spot as the world’s biggest publisher back in 2018, according to Publisher’s Weekly, and have maintained their position ever since.
Pearson was the world’s fourth largest publisher in 2020, earning $4.62 billion in revenue that year.
RELX Group’s annual report earned $10.64 billion in revenue in 2022.
Source: Statista6, Publisher’s Weekly, RELX Group
7. Microcosm is the fastest-growing indie publisher with a sales growth of 207% between 2019 and 2021
Statista’s data on independent publishers demonstrates quite a bit of growth for two publishers between 2019 and 2021.
Microcosm saw a sales growth of 207% while Blue Star Press’ growth was 120%.
Sales growth for other indie publishers included Media Lab Books at 70%, Wolfpack Publishing at 67%, Ulysses Press at 52%, 1517 Media at 49% and Kogan Page Inc. at 47%.
8. The Harry Potter book series are the most-read fiction books on Amazon
Amazon keeps track of the most read versus the most sold fiction and nonfiction books available from its book market.
The data is collected on a page called the “Amazon Charts.”
The page lists the top 20 books from each category from the previous week and provides data on the number of weeks each book has appeared on the list.
All seven novels in the Harry Potter series have appeared the highest number of times under the Most Read list for fiction books.
Most have spent 310 weeks on the list.
The Half-Blood Prince has spent 309 weeks on the list while The Chamber of Secrets has appeared for 287 weeks.
It’s important to note that Amazon’s data for this list comes from “daily Kindle readers and Audible listeners” as opposed to data reported by or collected from print book readers.
Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari (310 weeks on the list), The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson and 12 Rules for Life by Jordan B. Peterson (269 weeks on the list) are the most read nonfiction books on Amazon.
Source: Amazon Charts
9. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson is the most-sold book on Amazon
Although The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck is in the #5 spot on Amazon’s Most Sold list, this book has appeared on the list more times than any other book.
It’s been on the list for 251 weeks under the nonfiction category.
Other popular books here include Atomic Habits by James Clear (221 weeks on the list), It Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins (183 weeks) and 12 Rules for Life by Jordan B. Peterson (163 weeks).
The most popular titles in the fiction category include It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover (on the list for 96 weeks), The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid (93 weeks) and Verity by Colleen Hoover (85 weeks).
Again, while the Most Read list doesn’t include data from print book readers, this stat and the previous stat show how a book that sells well isn’t necessarily being read by its readers at the same level.
It more than likely sits on a reader’s very long To Be Read (TBR) list instead.
Source: Amazon Charts
Print book sales statistics
10. Sales for print books declined by 6.5% in 2022
According to book sales data collected by NPD Bookscan and published by Publisher’s Weekly, print book sales declined by 6.5% in 2022 in comparison to 2021’s totals.
In 2021, 843.1 million units were sold. 788.7 million units were sold in 2022.
The decline is likely due to a drop in interest in reading as a result of COVID-19 restrictions lifting.
Even so, 2022’s sales are still 11.8% higher than that of 2019, the year before COVID-19 restrictions began.
Source: NPD Bookscan via Publisher’s Weekly1
11. It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover was the best-selling book of 2022, selling over 2.7 million copies
According to data collected by NPD Bookscan and published by Publisher’s Weekly, It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover was 2022’s best-selling print book.
It sold 2,729,007 copies.
Colleen had eight total novels appear on the best-selling books list for print books in 2022. This list has 25 spots.
Her novels that appeared on this list sold more than 11.4 million copies collectively.
Other top-selling print books were Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (#4), Atomic Habits by James Clear (#6) and The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid (#7).
Source: NPD Bookscan via Publisher’s Weekly2
12. It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover was the number one print book on Amazon in 2022
Colleen Hoover’s It Ends with Us was also the number one print book sold on Amazon throughout 2022.
Amazon cites the paperback edition as the most popular version of this book.
It has a 4.7 star rating (out of 5 stars) from over 265,000 reviews.
It’s still sitting in the #3 spot on Amazon’s bestsellers list as of late April 2023. It’s behind Atomic Habits by James Clear and Spare by Prince Harry.
Other popular books in 2022 included It Starts with Us by Colleen Hoover, Verity by Colleen Hoover, Where the Crawdads Sings by Delia Owens, Atomic Habits by James Clear and Reminders of Him by Colleen Hoover.
13. A Promised Land by Barack Obama is the fastest-selling biography of all time
Barack Obama’s memoir A Promised Land, published in 2020, sold more copies in its first four weeks of publication than any other biography in history.
It sold 1.9 million copies in four weeks.
His wife’s memoir, Becoming by Michelle Obama, published in 2018, sold 1.8 million copies in its first four weeks.
These are also the fastest-selling biographies to ever be published when you look at Week 1 sales.
These books sold 831,300 and 645,900 copies in their first weeks respectively.
The newly-published memoir by Prince Harry, Spare, which was published in 2023 by Penguin Random House, sold 629,300 copies in its first week to become the third fastest-selling biography to ever be published.
Source: NPD Bookscan
14. Ebooks will generate $17.7 billion in annual revenue globally by 2025
Statista’s forecast for ebook sales predicts that annual revenue for ebooks will reach $17.7 billion annually by 2025.
Annual revenue for ebooks was $13.5 billion in 2017 for comparison.
Revenue from digitally-published papers will reach $9.3 billion by 2025 while revenue from digital magazines will reach $5.3 billion.
15. 62% of readers consume ebooks on tablets
According to a survey conducted by Booknet Canada in which respondents were Canadian readers over the age of 18, 62% of readers, or the majority of readers, consume ebooks on tablets.
61% use smartphones while 59% use laptops or computers.
Only 57% of readers primarily use dedicated ereaders.
Here are the top three apps preferred by ebook readers based on device type:
- Kindle – 20%
- iBooks – 16%
- Google Books – 14%
- Google Books – 20%
- Kindle – 17%
- iBooks – 15%
- Browser – 26%
- Kindle – 16%
- Google Books – 16%
Source: Booknet Canada
Audiobook sales statistics
16. Audiobook sales reached $1.6 billion in the United States in 2021
Data published by Statista on audiobook sales shows that revenue from audiobooks reached $1.6 billion in the United States in 2021.
The data comes from 28 publishers, including Audible, Simon & Schuster, Penguin Random House, HarperCollins, HachetteAudio and Macmillan.
17. Over 74,000 audiobooks were published in 2021
According to data obtained by Statista, over 74,000 audiobooks were published in 2021.
This was an increase from 2020’s numbers, which saw 71,000 audiobooks published.
18. Only 23% of adults consume audiobooks
Data from a survey published by Statista revealed that only 23% of adults in the United States have listened to an audiobook during the year 2021.
In comparison, 68% said they read at least one print book during that year.
75% of adults said they read at least one book in any format throughout the year.
19. Readers in the United States spent $114.10 on books per household in 2021
Statista’s data on American household expenditure on books reveals that readers spent an average $114.10 per household on books in 2021.
This was a slight increase over 2020, which saw an annual expenditure of $113.87 on books per household.
While expenditure fluctuates year over year, the biggest drop since 2010 came in 2019 where expenditure dipped below $100 per household for the year.
20. On average, Americans spend 16.8 minutes reading on a daily basis
Statista’s data on reader statistics shows that the average daily time spent on reading in the United States amounts to 16.8 minutes or 0.28 hours.
Adults over the age of 75 spend the most amount of time reading, reaching an average of 40 minutes on a daily basis.
Teenagers aged between 15 and 19 don’t spend much time reading on a daily basis at all, only reaching an average of 10 minutes per day.
21. The average amount college students spend on course material has dropped by more than $200 since the 2014-2015 academic year
Statista’s data on student spending shows that college students spent an average of $339 on course material for the 2021-2022 academic year.
Students spent an average of $413 on course material for the 2020-2021 academic year.
This is on trend with the annual decline of student spending, which has declined by more than $200 on average since 2014.
Book sales statistics sources
Although books are still a multi-billion industry, one thing is clear: book sales are on the decline and continue to decline year after year.
Even so, we can see that the release of individual books, especially high-profile memoirs, can do a lot to increase book sales throughout the year.
Furthermore, Amazon’s data demonstrates a lack of correlation (at times) between the book titles everyone is buying and the ones readers are actually picking up to read.
Lastly, ebook and audiobook sales are on the rise. This means publishers are more likely to invest in digital and audio publication models per new release going forward.
For additional reading: