News for Authors

2018 in Review: Top Five Sales Trends

by Phil Stamper-Halpin|December, 2018

In July, we gave our authors a peek into our top five summer sales trends. In this article, we zoom out a bit and take a look at the entire year, reviewing some of the top sales trends at Penguin Random House throughout all of 2018.


1)    Self-Improvement Books Hit Big with Millennials

One trend that has been taking the publishing world by storm is self-improvement. While this is by no means a new category, sales for these titles have grown dramatically, especially among millennials. From financial titles—like You Are a Badass at Making Money by Jen Sincero—to leadership guides—such as Start with Why by Simon Sinek—to titles that focus on personal growth—like 12 Rules for Life by Jordan B. Peterson—self-improvement targeted at millennials is a rapidly growing category.

An emerging category running parallel to self-improvement is New Age, from Tarot cards to healing crystals. The success of titles such as Crystal Wisdom Healing Oracle by Judy Hall shows the importance younger adults have placed on intrinsic energies and the ability to connect with their higher selves.


2)    Cookbooks & Nutrition Titles Continue to Surge

Cookbooks, another industry mainstay, continue to thrive. While celebrity cookbooks like Giada’s Italy by Giada De Laurentiis and True Roots by Kristin Cavallari have had a strong presence, we’ve also seen a few new trends emerge within this category.

Instant Pot cookbooks have emerged as a popular cooking subcategory. Titles include the recent release The Ultimate Instant Pot Cookbook by Coco Morante, along with diet-related books like The Keto Reset Instant Pot Cookbook by Mark Sisson, Lindsay Taylor, and Layla McGowan.

The success of diabetes-specific cookbooks like The Complete Diabetes Cookbook, edited by America’s Test Kitchen, and Dr. Neal Barnard’s Cookbook for Reversing Diabetes by Neal Barnard and Dreena Burton shows how our books respond to a particular need in the marketplace.


3)    Book Clubs & Influencers Help Drive Fiction Sales

Penguin Random House strives to publish the best fiction titles in the marketplace. For book clubs and reading groups in particular, we have seen many favorite 2017 titles, such as Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate and Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng—and even some 2016 titles, like A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles—carry over into this year.

Reese Witherspoon’s status as a book influencer has grown tremendously this year, with very strong sales for her book club picks, including Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman, Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman, Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton, and Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens.


4)    A Need for Books Featuring Activism for All Ages

Books about activism and social justice demonstrate to children and teens that their voices count. Many of these titles continue to celebrate girls specifically, by promoting confidence and heightening their interest in science and technology.


5)    New Trends for Kids: Highly Illustrated Stories, Plus More Unicorns and Narwhals

Highly illustrated stories continue to dominate the chapter book and middle grade landscape. Penguin Random House titles in this category include The Last Kids on Earth by Max Brallier, Roller Girl and All’s Faire in Middle School by Victoria Jamieson, the Hilo Series by Judd Winick, and The Cardboard Kingdom by Chad Sell.

One trend that continues to surge? Young kids’ love of unicorns and narwhals! Uni the Unicorn and Uni the Unicorn and the Dream Come True by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and the Narwhal and Jelly series by Ben Clanton are all big sellers in the kids market.

Throughout this and every year, Penguin Random House has always been committed to publishing the best books and fulfilling the needs of our readers. Our teams work tirelessly to get your titles into the hands of eager readers everywhere, and as we approach the holiday season, it’s important to zoom out and see what trends have been leading the marketplace. This is just a snapshot of the many, many great titles we’ve successfully published this year.



Phil Stamper-Halpin is Senior Manager, Publishing Development & Author Platforms for Penguin Random House.