Fiction book sales by year
- Through June 2021, fiction book sales stand at 188 million copies sold.
- 48.6% of total book sales in the first half of 2021 were fiction books, which is a 25.2% increase from the same period in 2020.
- Fiction book sales grew by 25.2% compared to the same period in 2020.
- Most of the fiction sales are attributed to juvenile fiction, accounting for 48.6% of total fiction book sales.
- Adult fiction accounts for 43.6% of total fiction book sales, while young adult fiction accounts for 7.8%.
Adult fiction book sales
- Adult fiction books were sold in over 63 million copies from January to June 2021.
- This presents 21.2% of all printed books sold over this period.
- The share of adult fiction sales in total sales increased from 16.2% in 2020.
- Compared to the first half of 2020, adult fiction book sales increased by 30.7%.
- In 2020, 138.4 million copies were sold, a 6% increase from 130.54 million in 2019.
Juvenile fiction book sales
- Juvenile fiction books were sold in over 56 million copies through March 2021, growing by 40% compared to the same period in 2020.
- Juvenile fiction is also the second-highest selling category among all books, accounting for 24% of all book sales in 2020.
- In 2020, juvenile fiction book sales went over 185.6 million copies, making it the second-highest selling category, behind adult nonfiction (LINK).
- The sales grew by 11% compared to 2019, accounting for 33% of the US market growth in 2020.
Young adult fiction book sales
More insights into young adult book sales statistics are on this page (LINK)
- Young adult fiction sold 7 million copies during Q1 of 2021, growing by 62.8% compared to Q1 of 2020.
- Through May 2021, YA fiction sold over 10 million copies, which is the largest amount of sold units during this period over the last 10 years.
- The year-to-date growth of YA fiction was 68%, also the highest over the last 10 years.
- Since 2013, over 62 million books have been sold, January through May
Fiction books sales by genre
Covid pandemic impacted readers’ habits and sources of new reads. A lot of new read ideas came from TV screens and streaming platforms, considering the increased time people spent at home.
This trend reflects on genre popularity, with graphic novels leading the way:
- Graphic novels sales increased by 4 million units in Q1 of 2021 over the same period in 2020.
- Over 3.2 million, or more than 80% of that growth is contributed to manga sales.
- General fiction sales in Q1 of 2021 were up 2 million units compared to 2020.
- Most of the gains in this category are credited to the contemporary women category.
- Romance sales grew by 1 million copies over 2020.
- The titles with the highest impact on fiction sales in 2021 were the ones available on streaming services.
- 31.25% of juvenile fiction in 2021 is credited to general fiction, which was up 5 million copies compared to 2020.
- Social situation books sales increased by 2 million in 2020, as well as science fiction.
- Young adult fiction growth was primarily driven by the #booktok hashtag, with sci-fi and fantasy books leading the way with 1 million units sales growth compared to 2020.
- Social issues books also had a big increase in YA fiction, with 700,000 more copies sold compared to 2020.
Best-selling fiction books
As it is impossible to track all book sales in human history, only reliable sales figures are presented on this list. This means that a lot of titles, especially the ones from previous centuries, will not get complete sales to the figure presented.
- According to official stats, 5 book titles generated over 100 million unit sales. Unofficially, 9 titles reached over 100 million sold copies.
- From the 166 titles that reached over 10 million sold copies, 130 are fiction books, accounting for 78% of best-selling books of all time.
- All of the top10 best-selling books of all time are fiction books, and 43 out of the top50 belong to fiction.
- 5 out of the top10 best-selling books of all time come from the fantasy genre, as well as 11 from the top20.
- 6 out of 10 best-selling fiction books were released in the 20th century, 2 are from the 19th, and one is from the 18th and 21st.
- 70% of fiction books that sold over 10 million copies are from the 20th century, 20.8% are published in the 21st, 6.9% come from the 19th century, 1.5% from the 18th, and 0.8% are from the 14th.
- 98 out of 30 best-selling fiction books of all time are published in the English language, followed by Russian with 6 titles, and French and Italian with 4.
|Book name||Author||Publish date||Language||Estimated sales (million copies)|
|The Hobbit||J. R. R. Tolkien||1937||English||140.6|
|Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone||J. K. Rowling||1997||English||120|
|The Little Prince||Antoine de Saint-Exupéry||1943||French||100|
|Dream of the Red Chamber||Cao Xueqin||1750||Chinese||100|
|And Then There Were None||Agatha Christie||1939||English||100|
|The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe||C. S. Lewis||1950||English||85|
|She: A History of Adventure||H. Rider Haggard||1887||English||83|
|The Adventures of Pinocchio (Le avventure di Pinocchio)||Carlo Collodi||1881||Italian||80|
|The Da Vinci Code||Dan Brown||2003||English||80|
|Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets||J. K. Rowling||1998||English||77|
|Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban||J. K. Rowling||1999||English||65|
|Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire||J. K. Rowling||2000||English||65|
|Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix||J. K. Rowling||2003||English||65|
|Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince||J. K. Rowling||2005||English||65|
|Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows||J. K. Rowling||2007||English||65|
|The Alchemist (O Alquimista)||Paulo Coelho||1988||Portuguese||65|
|The Catcher in the Rye||J. D. Salinger||1951||English||65|
|The Bridges of Madison County||Robert James Waller||1992||English||60|
|Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ||Lew Wallace||1880||English||50|
|One Hundred Years of Solitude (Cien años de soledad)||Gabriel García Márquez||1967||Spanish||50|
Best-selling fiction authors
Note: Some of the authors, especially the ones from previous centuries, didn’t make the list even though estimates of their book sales exceed 100 million copies. This is due to unreliable sales data.
- There are 99 authors who sold over 100 million books so far.
- 42 of them, or 42.4%, are American authors, most among all nationalities.
- 24.2% of best-selling authors are British, while 17.2% are Japanese.
- 68 out of 99 best-selling authors published books on the English language, followed by Japanese with 17, and French with 5.
- Of the top10 best-selling fiction writers, only one didn’t write in the English language.
- 5 out of 10 best-selling fiction authors are women. 22 female authors sold over 100 million books so far.
|Author name||Min. estimated sales (million copies)||Max. estimated sales (million copies)||Language|
|J. K. Rowling||500||500||English|
|R. L. Stine||100||400||English|