Adult Book Sales Statistics

Unit sales for adult books

  • As of 2022, over 487.3 million adult print books are sold every year in the US.
  • While adult print book sales declined by 3.71% over the last year, the sales are still 12.39% above the pre-pandemic levels in 2019.
  • Adult books account for over 61.95% of all book sales in the US, which is the highest mark over the last 5 years.
  • Overall, adult fiction book sales are 10.92% higher compared to 2018, with an average annual growth of 2.7%.
  • Most of these gains are attributed to the adult fiction category, while the nonfiction section is on a decline.
YearTotal adult book sales (million units sold)Change
  • Adult nonfiction books sell over 289.3 million units per year, making them the highest-selling category of books.
  • 37.48% of all books sold in a year are adult nonfiction books.
  • Adult fiction contributes to 189 million copies sold in a year, accounting for 24.48% of total books sold.
  • Adult fiction books have been on the rise over the last 5 years, increasing unit sales by over 40.94% since 2018.
  • On the other hand, nonfiction adult books, even though still the highest-selling category, dropped sales figures by 2.6% over the last 5 years.
YearAdult nonfiction salesChangeAdult fiction salesChange

Adult book sales revenue

  • Adult books generate over $6.01 billion in sales revenue per year as of 2021.
  • This was the first time that the revenue from adult book sales went over $6 billion.
  • Adult book revenue was strong during the two pandemic years, increasing 10.75% and 10.07% in 2020 and 2021, respectively.
  • The covid-19 pandemic boosted adult book sales, and the revenue has increased by 21.9% since 2019.
  • Even though adult books generate 68.9% of total book sales revenue, their share decreased over the years, once standing at 75.5% of total revenue in 2013.
YearAdult book sales revenue ($ billion)Change
Annual ales revenue for adult books

Adult coloring books statistics

  • Adult coloring books became the fastest-growing adult category in 2015.
  • That year, the sales jumped 12x, from million units in 2014 to 12 million in 2015.
  • Only during the month of December 2015, over 3 million copies were sold in the US.
  • During that time, 5 out of the 10 bestselling books on Amazon came from this category.
  • This popularity even led to the growth of coloring pencils sales, which grew by 26% in 2015 over 2014.
  • Adult coloring books were the main driving force behind the rise of adult nonfiction 12% sales growth during the first half of 2016 compared to the first half of 2015.
  • By 2017, the sales started to decline, and the in the first quarter of 2017, Barnes & Noble reported that the 8.3% drop in bookstore sales is mainly attributed to the fall of adult coloring books.
  • However, a potential reason for the drop in sales is due to the redistribution of publishing channels, where a huge number of independent publishers and bookstores, who don’t report sales and revenue numbers as often as big publishers, continued with the sales.