- Memoirs and biographies for young adults grew 26% in sales revenue over the last 5 years.
- Unit sales for the category dropped by 17.9% in 2021 over 2020, even though the category had a strong first quarter of 2021 with a 38% increase over the Q1 of 2020.
- This is faster growth than the adult non-fiction category, which grew 22.5%.
- 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
- It comes in ahead of
- For e-books, memoirs and biographies come in second behind religion and spirituality.
Best-selling memoirs and autobiographies
|Book||Author||Release date||Copies sold|
|An Autobiography||Agatha Christie||2012||10M+|
|The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin||Benjamin Franklin||1791||5M+|
|A Promised Land||Barack Obama||2020||5M+|
|Born a Crime|
Stories from a South African Childhood
|Love, Lucy||Lucille Ball||1997||1M+|
|Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant||Ulysses S. Grant||2006||1M+|
|Into Thin Air:|
A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster
|The Autobiography of Malcolm X||Malcolm X||1987||500K+|
Largest advances for memoirs or autobiographies
- Barack and Michelle Obama for A Promised Land and becoming – $60million
- My Life by Bill Clinton – $15 million
- Hard Choices by Hilary Clinton – $14 million
- Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen – $10 million
- Crossing the Threshold of Hope by Pope John Paul II – $8.5 million
- 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, and 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 are 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.