As part of a recent presentation on trade book print unit sales through the first half of 2021, NPD BookScan analyst Kristen McLean has detailed an historic first quarter with sales rising 29% over the pandemic-shaken first quarter of 2020.

The second quarter for this year saw sales climb 18% over the same period for the previous year, reports Publishers Weekly senior writer Andrew Albanese.

“McLean also laid out possible scenarios for the rest of the year,” Albanese says. “All those outcomes assume that print unit sales will slow in the last six months of 2021.

Industry Analyst Sees Book Sales Headed to Banner Year

Should book sales return to 2019 levels, sales would finish the year up 2% over 2020, Albanese tells CCC.

“However, if the current trajectory continues, unit sales for trade book will finish 2021 with an 8% gain over last year—and that would still be amazing,” he says.

A wild card factor, McLean pointed out, is the future course of the COVID-19 pandemic. The crisis has led to higher-than-normal differences in book sales among various geographic areas, she noted, which complicates predicting how sales will continue to perform.

Author: Christopher Kenneally

Christopher Kenneally hosts CCC's Velocity of Content podcast series, which debuted in 2006 and is the longest continuously running podcast covering the publishing industry. As CCC's Senior Director, Marketing, he is responsible for organizing and hosting programs that address the business needs of all stakeholders in publishing and research. His reporting has appeared in the New York Times, Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times, The Independent (London), WBUR-FM, NPR, and WGBH-TV.
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