Children’s non-fiction books continue to sell big

Data from The NPD Group shows that while sales are down compared to the huge 2020 gains, numbers are still up 21% from pre-pandemic levels.
August 12, 2021

While 2021 sales for children’s non-fiction books in the US may be down compared to the massive bump seen last year, they’re still beating the pre-pandemic 2019 numbers. New data from market research firm The NPD Group shows that unit sales through the week ending July 24, 2021, are up 21% compared to pre-pandemic levels in 2019.

Throughout the pandemic, the children’s non-fiction supercategory saw huge growth in the US, with unit sales at the end of 2020 up 23% compared to the year before. Those increases were driven by the need for materials to entertain and educate children during lockdown. In comparison, unit sales through the week ending July 24, 2021 were down 5% from the same period in 2020.

Though many kids in the US are set to return to school this fall, educational titles continue to drive sales so far this year. Six categories accounted for 44% of sales for the juvenile non-fiction market in the US between January and July 2021. Biography and autobiography (up 23%) as well as science and nature (up 9%) both saw increases compared to last year, while the other categories—activity books, concepts, study aids, and games and activities—declined compared to 2020.

NPD reports that supply chain disruptions and shifts in retail channels have affected publishing in the last 52 weeks, but ongoing concerns around children’s education during and after the pandemic will continue to drive book sales well into 2022.


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