Memoirs and Autobiography Sales Statistics

Memoirs and Autobiography Sales Statistics

Top memoirs and autobiography sales statistics

  • 331,844,000 non-fiction books are sold per year
  • 80% are adult non-fiction, 20% juvenile or young adult non-fiction
  • Over the last 5 years, Adult non-fiction revenue has grown 22.8%
  • Young adult non-fiction revenues have grown 40% over the same period
  • Memoirs and biographies for young adults grew 26%
  • Adult non-fiction is the largest U.S. print book category totaling 41% of the total US market

Memoirs and autobiography sales statistics

  • Over the last 5 years, Adult non-fiction revenue has grown 22.8%
  • Young adult non-fiction revenues have grown 40% over the same period
  • Memoirs and biographies for young adults grew 26%
  • Memoirs and Biographies is the #1 best-selling hard copy book, non-fiction book category on Amazon
    • It comes in ahead of 
      • Self Help
      • Religion and Spirituality
      • Health, Fitness, and Dieting 
      • Politics and Social Science
  • For e-books, memoirs and biographies come in second behind religion and spirituality
  • Non-fiction is more popular in print format than digital

Best selling memoirs and autobiographies

BookAuthorRelease dateCopies sold
An AutobiographyAgatha Christie201210M+
The Autobiography of Benjamin FranklinBenjamin Franklin17915M+
A Promised LandBarack Obama20205M+
BecomingMichelle Obama20184M+
EducatedTara Westover20182M+
Born a Crime
Stories from a South African Childhood
Trevor Noah20162M+
Love, LucyLucille Ball19971M+
Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. GrantUlysses S. Grant20061M+
Into Thin Air:
A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster
Jon Krakauer19971M+
The Autobiography of Malcolm XMalcolm X1987500K+

Largest advances for memoirs or autobiographies

  1. Barack and Michelle Obama for A Promised Land and becoming – $60million
  2. My Life by Bill Clinton – $15 million
  3. Hard Choices by Hilary Clinton – $14 million
  4. Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen – $10 million
  5. Crossing the Threshold of Hope by Pope John Paul II – $8.5 million
  6. Life by Keith Richards – $7.3 million
  • The largest advance ever for an autobiography is 4x that of the second largest
  • Of the six largest advances: 3 were for politicians, 2 for rockstars and one for the head of the Catholic church
  • George W Bush received $7 million for his memoirs, suggesting that publishers have more faith in Democratic politicians to sell books than their Republican counterparts
  • The average reader got through less than 13 pages of Hard Choices by Hilary Clinton

Memoirs and autobiographies on the NYT bestsellers list

  • Over 3 million books are published each year, less than 500 make the NYT BSL
  • General fiction and biographies make the list more frequently than any other genre
  • 31% of Americans say biographies is their favorite book genre
  • Almost 50% of non-fiction books on the NYT BSL are biographies or memoirs
  • Of 2,025 non-fiction books to have reached the NYT BSL, almost 900 were biographies or memoirs
  • History, general non-fiction and reference books are 2nd, 3rd and 4th respectively
  • 24% of biographies and memoirs last just one week on the list
  • Male authors dominate in all non-fiction categories but the gender gap is smallest in memoirs and biographies

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