As the end of 2019 approaches, we take a look back at major trends that resonated with readers this year. Keep reading to learn about some of the biggest PRH sales trends of 2019.
1) Influencers and celebrity book clubs boost sales considerably
This year has been all about influential book clubs, with the return of Oprah, who chose The Water Dancer as her September pick and Olive, Again for November. Jenna Bush Hager launched her book club on TODAY this spring, with The Unwinding of the Miracle and Evvie Drake Starts Over as two Penguin Random House picks. And Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine book club continues to drive strong sales at the register, with Fair Play, The Giver of Stars, The Secrets We Kept, Daisy Jones & The Six, and The Proposal all benefiting from her huge following.
2) Graphic novels continue to grow in popularity
Graphic novel sales percentages are up by double digits in both the adult and children’s categories, with strong sales online, at brick-and-mortar retail stores, and in the school and library market. Marvel is leading the way with graphic novels for both kids and adults. The Last Kids on Earth series has boosted sales in this genre, and is soon to be a Netflix original series. Raina Telgemeier’s catalogue of graphic novels has contributed to the genre’s staying power as well.
3) Readers seek wellness and self-care via hobbies and DIY activities
As people increasingly embrace their own wellness and focus on self-care, we see continued growth in all wellness-related book categories. This includes self-improvement, where Brené Brown’s titles hold strong. New age/astrology has also proven to be a growing category, with titles like The Secret Language of Birthdays, The Illuminated Tarot, and Astrology for the Soul being plucked off physical and virtual shelves.
The growing conversation around technology’s role in our lives has contributed to a rise in book about hobbies, crafts, and other non-digital activities. Titles like Draw 50 Animals and The Complete Manual of Woodworking inspire a hobby-driven lifestyle, and creative journaling books like Wreck This Journal: Now in Color and Do One Thing Every Day That Inspires You encourage the healthy habit of cataloging one’s thoughts and motivations.
4) Evergreen children’s books and box sets for kids have staying power
On the children’s side, books for the youngest readers are booming, with Dr. Seuss’s sales continuing to rise. Picture books are doing quite well too, led by The Wonderful Things You Will Be, Grumpy Monkey, and Dragons Love Tacos.
Box sets for kids are popular with young readers and parents alike. The Little Blue Box of Bright and Early Board Books and Dr. Seuss’s Beginner Book Collection give just a taste of our strong Seuss list. Junie B. Jones First Boxed Set Ever! and The Never Girls Collection #1 have resonated with young audiences as well.
5) Double-digit growth in biography and autobiography
Finally, on the nonfiction front, we are seeing double-digit percentage growth in biography and autobiography. Leading the pack is last year’s mega-bestseller Becoming by Michelle Obama, which has continued to pull in huge sales all the way through 2019. The First Lady’s book has been so popular that it even inspired Becoming: A Guided Journal for Discovering Your Voice, which came out in November. Tara Westover’s Educated has similarly been a continuing top seller in this category. And this year’s paperback edition of Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime has become one of the bestselling autobiographies of 2019.
With another year on the books, we are proud to look back on our commitment to publishing the best titles and meeting the evolving tastes and needs of our readers everywhere. Though the trends may change, the love of books remains solid, and our teams work hard year in and year out to get your titles into as many hands and shelves as possible.
Neda Dallal is Senior Associate, Publishing Development and Author Platforms at Penguin Random House.