July 28, 2021

New Sales Data From NPD: “In the Wake of Protests, Race and Social Justice Books Continue to Reap Sales Gains”

From NPD Group:

There’s continued growth in U.S. print books that explore social justice and race in America. According to The NPD Group, adult non-fiction subjects with a focus on these topics grew 160% (more than 700,000 units), from January through May 2021 compared to last year.

The books with the highest growth rate were titles related to “social science and discrimination.” Unit sales in that category grew nearly 200%, year over year, led by a new title this year, “The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prospect Together,” by Heather McGhee. Other titles driving growth in these subjects included “Uncomfortable Conversations with A Black Man,” by Emmanuel Acho (2020), “This is the Fire: What I Say To My Friends About Racism,” by Don Lemon (2021), and “You Are Your Best Thing: Vulnerability, Shame Resilience, and The Black Experience,” by Tarana Burke (2021).

Source: NPD

“Notably these titles are all frontlist titles published in the last year,” said Kristen McLean, books industry analyst for NPD. “In 2020, there was an incredible surge in interest in these topics, and book buyers continue to seek out books that help them understand and address racism. New voices on these subjects continue to find an audience.”

Last year, Amistad Press, an imprint of HarperCollins, started the BlackoutBestsellerList hashtag campaign on social media to help support Black writers and demonstrate their power and clout in the publishing industry. The campaign encouraged readers to purchase any two books by Black writers the week of Sunday, June 14 to Saturday, June 20. The week ending June 20 marked the first week that print unit sales volume exceeded 15 million in 2020, aided in part by the success of the campaign and ongoing interest in books related to this cultural conversation.

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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