In this series, we look at data from 2009 to make decisions about publishing now. Today we want to look at various genres of books and how well they sell to determine what you should publish.
The question is what you should publish, or from the author’s perspective, what should you write? One answer is you should write what you know and what you are passionate about. But writing without an idea of what readers want or what booksellers are reserving their space for could hurt your sales. There are ways to use the things you know and are passionate about in a way that meets the demand of the reading public. Take a look at the following statistics to get an idea of what people have been buying
40% adult fiction
16% adult non-fiction
13% academic and professional
3% scientific, technical, and medical
Books for general audiences top the charts. Adult fiction is the big winner in types of books sold taking 40% of the market.
The higher education market (academic/professional and scientific/technical/medical) still makes up a good portion of the market, though, with 16%. These books are usually very targeted and are priced higher.
Books by Genre – Fiction Breakdown
No one subgenre of fiction stands out immensely over the others. Even though general fiction books topped the list of type of fiction sold, there are more books in the general fiction pool, too. Behind that, romance and thrillers stand out, followed closely by mystery and juvenile fiction.
23% juvenile fiction
17% young adult
9% series/chapter books
5% beginning/early readers
2% leveled reader
2% activity book
12% other juvenile
Some of these categories seem like they might start to overlap, which tends to sometimes be an issue when categorizing many books. But juvenile fiction came out on top of juvenile books. Picture books are next, and these are usually highly illustrated books. Rounding out the top categories is young adult, which has seen significant growth over the past few years as more young adult books are being read by adults.
Books by Genre – Non-fiction
First, I want to remind you that 16% of all books sold in 2009 were fiction. That 16% breaks down across the following non-fiction categories:
18% biography and autobiography
8% health and fitness
6% body, mind, and spirit
5% sports and recreation
4% craft and hobby
4% art and design
It would be an interesting exercise to see how these percentages lined up against what percentage of shelf space these categories take up in various stores.
The statistics in this series are from Bowker’s Essential Facts 2009: About the U.S. Book Consumer Demographics and Buying Behaviors (free download available here, I suggest checking out the report for charts, graphs, and other visuals).
This post is a part of a series of posts based on publishing trends and statistics every Tuesday and Thursday through the middle of November. Check back often to see posts in this series. Look for StatSeries in the headline or check the StatSeries category to see all posts in this series.