May 16, 2022

Market Research: “Travel Book Sales Take Off Again as COVID-19 Fears Subside, NPD Says 

From NPD Group:

With COVID-19 rates falling across the country, more Americans are traveling and planning for Spring Break and other vacations. It’s no wonder that travel book sales have also begun to rise. In fact, sales of print books in the travel category were 40% higher for the year to date, through February 19, 2022, compared to the same time in 2021,according to The NPD Group.

“The travel industry was completely upended in 2020 and travel books followed suit,” said Kristen McLean, books industry analyst for NPD. “But now, as more consumers are vaccinated and making travel plans, demand for travel books is rising, once again. While we haven’t yet reached pre-pandemic levels, sales are moving in the right direction.”

=According to a survey conducted by NPD partner Civic Science, in the week ending February 6, 2022, half of Americans said they were comfortable traveling, which was 8 points higher than the previous four weeks (week ending January 9, 2022). Comparing vaccination rates with the sales change of travel books by the locations they cover, McLean noted a positive correlation. “While there are a few outliers, like Japan and Central America, countries and regions with higher vaccination rates tended to have a higher increase in travel book sales,” McLean said. “This correlation suggests that people who are planning travel are factoring in the relative safety of the destinations, vis-à-vis COVID-19.”

Travel book categories on the rise

In 2021, year-over-year unit sales for travel books started to turn around, increasing by 24% but sales volume remained below pre-pandemic levels. There were a few bright spots in the highest-growth travel category segments in 2021, including European and Caribbean travel titles, which indicates more consumers might be planning to extend travel outside the U.S. this year.

Led by Anthony Bourdain’s front list bestseller, “World Travel: An Irreverent Guide,” the travel reference guides category gained the most share in 2021, compared to the previous year, rising 3 share points, with unit sales growing 190%. Other rising categories point to another strong summer for domestic travel, including books about parks and campgrounds, the Western United States, amusement and theme parks, and the Northeastern United States.

“Essays and travelogues lost the most share last year, as they comped against the strong growth in armchair-travel books in 2020,” McLean said. “We all had to get our travel fix vicariously during the pandemic, but it seems like 2022 will offer more opportunities to hit the road and skies again,” McLean said.

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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