- The global nonfiction book market is projected at $14.02 billion as of 2022, which is a 5.7% growth compared to $13.27 billion in 2021.
- By 2026, the global nonfiction book market is projected to reach $16.61 billion.
- Total U.S nonfiction sales revenue reached $7.34 billion as of 2021, a 1.52% increase over 2020 of $7.23 billion.
- The US nonfiction book market generates over 55.3% of global nonfiction book revenue.
- US adult nonfiction sales reached $6.40 billion, while YA and juvenile fiction generate over $.0.94 billion per year.
- Adult nonfiction generates the most revenue and the most unit sales in the US book market.
- As of 2022, over 360.11 million nonfiction print books are sold in the US.
- This is a 10.4% drop over the 401.94 million print units sold in 2021.
- As of 2022, nonfiction print books account for 45.5% of book sales in the US, trailing fiction books for the second year in a row.
- 2020 has been the best-performing year for adult nonfiction ebooks since 2017, selling 29 million units in the U.S.
- As of 2020, one in five books sold for the adult nonfiction segment were audiobooks.
Nonfiction books sales in the US
Nonfiction print unit sales in the US
- 360.1 million nonfiction print books were sold in 2022.
- This was a 10.1% decrease over the 401.9 million reached in 2021.
- 289.34 million nonfiction adult print books were sold in 2022.
- This is the biggest nonfiction category, accounting for over 80% of total nonfiction sales.
- Nonfiction book sales account for 45.5% of total print book sales as of 2022.
- 70.8 million nonfiction children’s/ya books were sold in 2021.
- This segment totals 19.65% of nonfiction unit sales.
|Young adult nonfiction||2.71||3.99||4.32||4.12|
|Total nonfiction print units sold||359.95||391.24||401.94||360.11|
A graphical representation of nonfiction print unit sales by age group for the U.S. is given below:
Nonfiction digital unit sales in the US
Nonfiction e-book sales
- For the given period, 2020 was the best-performing year for adult nonfiction ebooks, selling 36 million units in the U.S.
- For this category, sales grew steadily until dropping to 29 million units sold in 2021.
- In total, adult nonfiction ebook units increased by 11.54% over the given period.
|Year||Adult nonfiction ebook units sold (million)||Change|
Nonfiction audiobook sales
- In 2020, audiobooks were most popular within the adult non-fiction category.
- The audiobook format represented one in five books sold for this segment.
- In 2018, nonfiction audiobook sales made up 32.7% of total U.S. audiobook sales.
- This was an increase of 29.4% when compared to the previous year.
Nonfiction sales revenue in the US
Adult nonfiction sales revenue – U.S.
- Adult nonfiction sales revenue stands at $6.40 billion as of 2021.
- This is a YoY increase of 2.24%.
- 2021 was also the best-performing year for the adult segment over the three-year period.
- In total, adult nonfiction sales revenue has grown 12.87% since 2019.
|Year||Adult nonfiction ($ billion)||Change|
Children’s/ya nonfiction sales revenue – U.S.
- Children’s/ya nonfiction sales revenue reached $0.94 billion as of 2021.
- This was a YoY change of -3.09%.
- In total, children’s/ya nonfiction has grown 5.62% since 2019.
- 2020 was also the best performing year for the children’s/ya segment over the period at $0.97 billion.
|Year||Children’s/ya nonfiction ($ billion)||Change|
A graphical representation of nonfiction revenue by age group for the U.S. is given below:
Nonfiction book sales by category
Memoirs and autobiography sales
A full breakdown of memoirs and autobiography book sales is available on this page.
- As of 2021, Memoirs and biographies for young adults grew 26% over the previous 5 years.
- Memoirs and Biographies is the #1 best-selling hard copy book, non-fiction book category on Amazon.
- For e-books, memoirs and biographies come in second behind religion and spirituality.
Self-help book sales
More on self-help book sales figures are available in our in-depth report.
- According to NPD Group, The self-help industry has exploded in recent years: by 11% from 2013 to 2019, with U.S. sales of self-help books growing annually up to 18.6 million volumes.
- Self-help title numbers nearly tripled during the same period, from 30,897 to 85,253.
- This industry was worth $10.5 billion as of 2020.
Business book sales
A complete breakdown of business book sales statistics is on this page.
- Approximately 80.64 million business and economics category print books were sold in 2021.
- This represents 25% of adult non-fiction print sales which were over 322.56 million in total.
- 2021 showed a 10% rise from over 73.31 million for the business and economics category when compared to the previous FY.
- As of October 2021, year-to-date sales of baking cookbooks were higher than the previous year by 42%.
- Baking book sales showed a strong YoY growth trend over the 10 previous years.
- Benefitting from “The Great British Bake Off,” Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood titles were among the category’s top three best-sellers as of November 2021.
Bestselling nonfiction books of all time
In terms of the all time best-sellers list, nonfiction books are known to sell less copies than works of fiction, although some nonfiction titles have still managed to achieve huge sales numbers.
- Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, published in 1937, is the best selling nonfiction book of all time, selling over 70 million copies.
- 3 other nonfiction titles sold over 50 million copies, and additional 4 titles sold over 40 million copies.
- A Message to Garcia by Elbert Hubbard is the oldest nonfiction book on the best-selling list, published in the 19th century in 1899.
|1||Think and Grow Rich||Napoleon Hill||1937||238||70 million|
|2||You Can Heal Your Life||Louise Hay||1984||224||50 million|
|3||The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care||Benjamin Spock||1946||527||50 million|
|4||The Hite Report||Shere Hite||1976||638||50 million|
|5||Rich Dad Poor Dad||Robert T. Kiyosaki||2000||336||44 million|
|6||Cosmos||Carl Sagan||1980||384||40 million|
|7||The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People||Stephen Covey||1989||381||40 million|
|8||A Message to Garcia||Elbert Hubbard||1899||42||40 million|
|9||The Diary of a Young Girl||Anne Frank||1947||350||35 million|
|10||Your Erroneous Zones||Wayne Dyer||1976||256||35 million|
Nonfiction book sales FAQ
What are nonfiction books?
- Nonfiction books attempt to provide information based on facts, research, and objective expertise rather than by using the author’s creative imagination.
What are the most popular nonfiction genres?
- The most popular nonfiction genres are memoir, self-help, narrative, religion/spirituality, cultural/social issues, and biographies.
How is the nonfiction book market segmented?
- The global nonfiction books market is segmented by type, category, and distribution channel.
- The type includes ebooks, printed books, and audiobooks.
- The category includes religion, travel, biography, history/law/political science, business/economics, cooking/entertainment, computers, crafts/antiques/hobbies/games, performing arts, and others.
- Distribution channel includes online sales, bookstores, and direct sales.