Over the course of the first six months of 2018 print sales rose 4% and total unit sales increased 2% compared to a similar period in 2017. One of the factors that contributed to print increasing is Donald Trump. Two of the top-selling books that have contributed to that growth are Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury, which has sold nearly 1 million copies and James Comey’s A Higher Loyalty, which has sold more than 577,000 copies.
Up until April, every New York Times bestseller had related to the Trump presidency in some way. And it’s not just that he serves as material, the chief salesman moves units, or at least increases awareness, with his tweets. This week, just one-third of the New York Times list of best-selling hardcover fiction books are Trump-related.
Adult fiction sales suffered from yet another period where no new novel broke out in print. (Though several did sell briskly in e-book). The top-selling new novel in the first half of 2018 was The President Is Missing by Bill Clinton and James Patterson, which sold nearly 384,000 copies in the first six months of 2018. Stephen King’s The Outsider was the second-most popular new adult fiction title in the first six months of the year, selling over 275,000 copies. In the first six months of 2017, two backlist novels led the adult fiction chart—A Man Called Ove by Fredrick Backman sold 451,000 copies, and Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale sold 325,000 copies.
What are the big trends of 2018, aside from all things Trump selling like hotcakes? Paperback sales were just about flat with the prior year. Unit sales of mass market paperbacks finally show real signs of bottoming out with units off 3% compared to 2017; in the first half of 2017, unit sales of the format were down 9% compared to the first six months of 2016. And the end seems near for physical audiobooks. While sales of digital audiobooks are the fastest growing segment in publishing, unit sales of CDs fell 28% in the first six months of 2018.
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times.