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UK Book Sales 2021: Highest Record in 10 Years

Posted on 13 May 2022

Sales of fantasy, science fiction, romance, crime novels, and personal development titles increased by 5 per cent compared to 2020, owing to strong demand. The sales totalled £1.82 billion, a 3 per cent increase over 2020, and, for the first time, sales have surpassed £1.8 billion. Short run hardback book printing was in high demand as people were looking to get their books published and sold. For hardback book printing and other services, you can rely on Ex Why Zed.


Despite the lockdowns, book sales increased in 2021, with more than 212 million print books sold – the highest figure in the last decade.

At the start of 2021, bookshops all over the UK were closed for more than three months. The data was collected from around 3,000 customers buying books each month in 2021.

In comparison to the previous year, fiction was up 20 per cent. Crime and thrillers saw a 19 per cent increase in volume, romance saw a 49 per cent increase, while science fiction and fantasy increased by 23 per cent.

The year’s bestselling title was The Thursday Murder Club, while the fourth bestselling title of the year was The Man Who Died Twice. These were Richard Osman’s first two novels. The category of non-fiction that grew the most was the mind, body, and spirit genre, which increased by 50 per cent to hit £18.7 million.

Charlie Mackesy’s “book of hope”, The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse continued to be the best-selling title in its second year. It is closely followed by The Midnight Library by Matt Haig, a story about Nora and her depression. Douglas Stuart’s Shuggie Bain and Maggie O’Farrell’s Hamnet were strong competitors as well.

Adult fiction has been a strong runner in the top 20 books of 2021, having nine on the board. The book They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera was the first young adult novel to be part of the year’s top books since 2015.

According to the researchers, the social media create conversations about old and new books and give new authors with great platforms to showcase novels. Therefore, book buyers who were seeking comfort found escapism, familiarity, laughter, and perhaps a sense of community in the year’s bestsellers. The increase in sales was proof that books are not a fad and have a good effect on people.


Solidarity for Ukraine Authors

As British readers continue to support the embattled country, books by Ukrainian authors fly off the shelves. The sales of classic Russian literature have also increased dramatically.

Sales of works by respected Ukrainian writer Andrey Kurkov, best known for Death and the Penguin, have increased by 848 per cent. As a result, authors are prompted to acquire short run hardback book printing and other types of printing services to publish their books. Marina Lewycka, a British-Ukrainian author whose book A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian was a UK bestseller in 2005, has seen her sales increase by 441 per cent in February. According to Nielsen BookData, sales of books by renowned Russian author Mikhail Bulgakov – author of The Master and Margarita – increased by nearly 50 per cent last week compared to pre-invasion levels.

This trend provided companies that offer short run hardback book printing with more work because of the heightened demand.

Books by Nobel Laureate Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, author of One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, sold nearly 30 per cent more than before the war. Dostoevsky’s classic works have increased by 123 per cent year over the year, while Tolstoy’s works, including War and Peace, have increased by 30 per cent. In comparison, total book sales in the first week of March were down 7 per cent from the same period last year.

The public’s turning to literature to support Ukraine and learn more about Russia’s often complex past, according to Tom Tivnan of The Bookseller, “makes perfect sense”. People want to help Ukraine, and they’re starting to focus on an area that they’ve never thought about or read about before. They are astute enough to separate the Putin regime and the oligarchs from the Russian people and their great literature.


Book Sales in Europe

In 2021, the French government implemented a number of programmes to help booksellers. This included a reading campaign and the creation of the Culture Pass, which gave 18-year-olds across the country €300 to spend on cultural products, including books, as long as they weren’t bought online. A total of 426,000 books were sold at nearly 3,000 participating bookstores. By 2022, the pass will be extended to all 15-to 17-year-olds, potentially boosting the industry.

Sales revenue in France increased by 20 per cent in 2020 and 19 per cent in 2019 compared to the previous year, though no specific sales figures were provided. The Syndicat de la Librairie Française (SLF) confirmed these figures, stating that sales at member stores increased by 20.4 per cent in 2021 compared to 2020 and by 24.3 per cent compared to 2019, as reported by Anne Martell, president of the SLF and co-director of the Martelle family bookshop in Amiens, France.

Sales in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland increased by about 3 per cent overall in 2021 compared to 2020 and by 1 per cent compared to 2019. A large part of this was due to a modest increase in the number of books sold combined with higher prices. Lockdowns hurt book sales at brick-and-mortar stores, which fell 11 per cent from the pre-pandemic year of 2019.


Ex Why Zed for Your Printing Needs

With the ease of restrictions on shopping, sales of books continue. So, if you have used the downtime during the pandemic to write a novel, or your workplace is looking for a printer for a hardback book printing of your company’s portfolio, Ex Why Zed can provide you with these services!

We provide high-quality prints on different types of paper. We also have a fast turnaround time so that you can have a physical copy in no time. Our rates are competitive so that you don’t have to look far for your options. Visit our website exwhyzed.com for more information on the services we provide.

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