Between school, work, and other hobbies or responsibilities, it’s hard for some to find time to read all of the titles on their growing to-be-read list. That’s why, for some readers, the summer is the perfect time to relax and escape into the pages of a good book. In this article, we take a closer look at what’s trending this summer.
Each year, media outlets from across the country (and world) launch lists of their top picks for summer reading, from morning programs like the Today show, to celebrity and entertainment blogs like PopSugar, to business platforms like LinkedIn’s Sales Blog. Kicking off what he called “the summer of reading,” Jimmy Fallon recently announced that he is launching The Tonight Show’s first-ever book club—and three of the five finalists are Penguin Random House titles.
Now more than ever, summer is the season for reading, and we at Penguin Random House rely on our great publicity and marketing teams to put our frontlist and backlist titles in the hands of book-hungry media influencers everywhere.
As beachgoers, road-trippers, and homebodies alike prepared for summer, we reached out to our sales teams to find out what interesting sales trends they’ve noticed recently from bookstores and ebook retailers. Here are the top five sales trends they’ve noticed:
1) Exploring New Regions through Cooking
A new trend this summer is a unique boost in specific genres of cookbooks. For those who are trying to stay fit, books that cover diet and wellness trends (keto diet, clean eating, and low-carb meals, for example) top the list. Beyond that, cooking enthusiasts are looking to expand their horizons by purchasing vegan and vegetarian cookbooks and exploring ethnic cookbooks—our Indian cuisine and Mexican cuisine cookbooks, for example, are doing especially well this summer.
2) Summer Vacation Prep
Many of our highest-selling titles every summer relate to trip planning. Despite the ease of some mobile apps and most people’s near-constant access to an internet browser, up-to-date physical travel guides remain top sellers as readers prepare for their summer vacations.
For those traveling alone, with a friend or a spouse, or with the whole family, we’ve noticed an uptick in books with interactive components. Activity books for kids, like the fun and intellectually stimulating All You Need is a Pencil series, are great ways for children to avoid the dreaded “are we there yet?” feeling, but travel journal merchandise, such as this journal featuring Penguin’s classic cover for Jack Kerouac’s ON THE ROAD, have also topped our sales lists for the season.
3) Summer Reading for Kids and Teens
Every year, perhaps unsurprisingly, we see an uptick in sales based on required reading for kids and teens, K–12. Some of these titles include HOOT by Carl Hiaasen, titles from the Mr. Lemoncello’s Library series by Chris Grabenstein, WONDER by R. J. Palacio, COUNTING BY 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan, THE OUTSIDERS by S. E. Hinton, ANIMAL FARM by George Orwell, THE BOOK THIEF by Marcus Zusak, and IN COLD BLOOD by Truman Capote.
Looking beyond required reading, we’ve seen trends YA fantasy and thriller titles trending from across the company. Some of our bestselling summer titles include ONE OF US IS LYING by Karen M. McManus, A REAPER AT THE GATES—part of the An Ember in the Ashes series—by Sabaa Tahir, and WE WERE LIARS by E. Lockhart.
4) “Escapist” Beach Reads
Once our readers finally get a time to relax and crack open a book or pull out an e-reader—whether at the beach, in a car, or in the comfort of home—which of our books are they “escaping” into? Similar to what we’ve seen in YA, thrillers like SOMETHING IN THE WATER by Catherine Steadman and THE GRAY GHOST by Clive Cussler and Robin Burcell are a couple of our biggest summer titles.
Other trends in escapist fiction can be seen in women’s fiction and literary titles as well. For example, ALL WE EVER WANTED by Emily Giffin, CLOCK DANCE by Anne Tyler, FLORIDA by Lauren Groff, THERE THERE by Tommy Orange, and A PLACE FOR US by Fatima Farheen Mirza are all top-performing titles by new and established authors alike.
And while we might put an emphasis on escapist fiction, there are plenty of trends in nonfiction, from business, to philosophy, to memoir. A few breakout hits we’ve seen recently are KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON by David Grann, THE SOUL OF AMERICA by Jon Meacham, and HOW TO CHANGE YOUR MIND by Michael Pollan.
5) PBS’s The Great American Read
This summer, PBS has started a new campaign called The Great American Read—the search for America’s “Best-Loved Novel”—and revealed America’s 100 “best-loved” books. Several hundred independent bookstores and Books-A-Million stores nationwide have received promotional materials for the show and built summer displays around a selection of the 100 titles featured in the show, and we’ve seen an uptick in sales related to this program.
More than 60 Penguin Random House titles appear on this list, and we invite you to vote for your favorite here: http://www.pbs.org/the-great-american-read/vote/
Whatever your plans for the summer, there’s a good chance that you and those in your family will be bringing along a book or e-reader. While readers enjoy their favorite summer reads, your publishing team works tirelessly to get your books—whether frontlist or backlist—into the hands of readers all across the country.
Phil Stamper-Halpin is Senior Manager, Publishing Development & Author Platforms for Penguin Random House.