It’s a new year! Finally! And that means it is time to assess the changes that happened in the world of books in the previous year and make a few predictions for the coming one. Yes, 2020 has given authors some new things to think about, so let’s take a look at the trends and how they will affect your writing and your book sales in the next several months.
- Reading is Up! People are spending more time at home, and that means they have more time to read. Current data shows that 28% of Boomers, 34% of Gen X’ers and 40% of Millennials were more likely to read in 2020 than in 2019. That’s great news!
- Print Sales are Down. Many bookstores were closed for much of the year, and even after they reopened, were likely to have fewer customers inside. Libraries and schools were also closed, and this contributed to deflated print sales in the early half of 2020. But…
- Online bookstores, stores that mastered curbside pickup, and sales of eBooks have all grown. Digital book sales showed double digit growth in both new releases and older books.
- eBook Sales will continue to increase. It has been easier to buy eBooks than regular books in 2020, and now that people have become used to the instant gratification of choosing a book to read at midnight and having it delivered to their phone or iPad instantly, they will continue to read this way. The eBook market is far from saturated and it will only continue to grow in 2021.
- Audio Book Sales Dipped Then Recovered. As people stopped commuting in March of 2020, audio book sales dropped. But later in the year, people returned to this method of “reading” as they figured out their new routines. Some experts are predicting the audio books will soon draw even or surpass eBooks in sales.
- Nonfiction book sales, particularly books aimed at children and young adults, have increased as parents cope with distance learning and school closures.
- Social Media Marketing. Many authors have relied on selling their books personally through seminars, book talks, and other appearances. This type of marketing died completely in 2020 and we still aren’t sure when it will return. That means that authors must turn to social media strategies to market their books.
- Traditional Publishers Consolidate. Penguin Random House acquiring Simon and Schuster is just the latest example. Less competition among publishing houses means that fewer authors will be offered traditional publishing contracts. And they will have less negotiation power, too. That means that more and more authors will be taking the self-publishing route.
- Collective Marketing. Combining forces with other authors leads to greater advertising power. Authors are joining forces to increase their visibility.
- Authors will see more international sales of their eBooks. Amazon makes it easy for eBooks to be displayed on its websites throughout the world, meaning it is easier for authors to sell books on every continent.
- Connecting directly with readers is more important than ever. Advertising on Facebook, Amazon, and other sites is extremely competitive and can become expensive (although I do recommend authors try this method of reaching readers). But having your own email list of fans of YOUR means that you can connect with them directly. Tell them about your new work, advertise sales and specials, and keep them interested and engaged in your books.
Changes in quarantine status will affect book sales throughout the year. As more people get the vaccine and feel safer interacting with others, book sales may trend down for a short time. But developing the habit of reading, particularly in young readers, is likely to mean that more and more people will continue to read for enjoyment and entertainment, as well as for information and education.