Adult fiction books sales in the U.S. H1 2018

In the first half of 2018, general adult fiction books were the most successful in terms of sales with over 20.4 million units sold in the United States during that time, but certain genres were far more popular than others. Unit sales of classics reached almost 3.6 million, outperforming books in the fantasy category, and almost 4.9 million graphic novels were sold. Among the most popular genres were romance and suspense/thrillers, with unit sales surpassing nine million and ten million respectively.

When it comes to nonfiction, business and economics books sold well in the first six months of 2018, as well as biographies, autobiographies, and memoirs. However, 21.2 million religious books and bibles were sold, superseding general nonfiction sales and making religion the best-selling adult nonfiction category in the U.S. during that time period.

The changing book market

Whilst it is true that demand for and spending on traditional media is waning as digital sources take over, books are still a popular source of entertainment, education, and recreation. But, like the newspaper and magazine market, the book industry found itself needing to adapt.

A key example of how the book market has changed is the advent of audiobooks, which allow users to enjoy books on the go in the same way they would listen to a podcast or stream their favorite music. Audiobooks in the fiction category are far more popular than nonfiction audiobooks, suggesting that buyers tend to use audiobooks more for recreation than education and listen to them on the go. Equally, the share of adults in the U.S. who listen to audiobooks in their car rather than at home grew between 2018 and 2019, demonstrating a growing trend towards on the go book consumption.

E-books are another popular, modern way to enjoy reading, though what they offer the consumer is not dissimilar to a print book when it comes to the act of reading itself. E-readers allow users to access any number of books at a given time, and as such e-books have less to do with flexibility in terms of consumption location or habit, but more to do with ease of access (and for avid readers, likely how many book shelves they need).

Unit sales of adult fiction books in the United States in the first half of 2018, by genre

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Release date

July 2018


United States

Survey time period

January to June 2018

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Statistics on "Book market in the U.S."

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