Self-Help Books Statistics

Self-Help Books Statistics

Self-Help books sales statistics

  • 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. 
  • The self-help book category is one of the fastest-growing nonfiction categories.
  • In 2020 like many others, the self-improvement market took a hit due to the pandemic and recession. However, readers’ interest in improving their physical, mental, and emotional health has grown.
  • With an estimated 15,000 self-help books published in the United States each year, the self-help genre continues to grow.
  • With the Personal development industry slowly but steadily growing, the self-improvement market is expected to rise to $14.0 billion by 2025.
  • Estimates of self-help books sold each year put the number at around 10 million. 
  • Taking into account used book sales, digital book sales, and books sold outside of the United States, this number is likely to be higher.
  • In 2021 sales jumped 19.3%, and unit sales were also up by nearly 25% compared to 2020. For the first time in history, sales hit 17.1 million in the first week of January.
  • NPD reported that self-help books increased by 11% from 2013 and reached 18.6 million in 2019.
  • Renewal and self-improvement did especially well compared to last year. Topics such as body, mind, and spirit were up 63%, self-help 30%, cooking 22%, and religion 13%.
  • A fun fact about the market is that the number of published self-help books outpaced sales growth.

Best selling Self-Help books of all time

  • Regarded as one of the most important self-help books of all time, Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill has sold over 70 million copies.
  • The Celestine Prophecy, written by James Redfield in 1993,  was originally published by Warner Books. The book has been translated into over 40 languages and spent 121 weeks on the New York Times Best Seller list.
  • The Secret by Rhonda Byrne has been on the New York Times bestseller list for over 190 weeks.
  • The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale published in 1952 has been a best-seller for over 60 years.
  • The Four Agreements published in 1997 has sold over 8 million copies. The Don Miguel Ruiz book has been translated into over 40 languages and has been on the bestseller list for The New York Times for over a decade.
TitleAuthorCopies Sold*
Think and Grow RichNapoleon Hill70 million
The AlchemistPaulo Coelho70 million
You can Heal your LifeLouise Hay50 million
Rich Dad, Poor DadRobert Kiyosaki26 million
Who moved my Cheese?Spencer Johnson25 million
The Celestine ProphecyJames Redfield23 million
The SecretRhonda Byrne21 million
The Power of Positive ThinkingNorman Vincent Peale20 million
Chicken Soup for the SoulJack Canfield & Mark Victor Hansen11 million
The Four AgreementsDon Miguel Ruiz7 million
(*Other titles may be excluded due to sales reporting differences.)

Other Self-Help books statistics

  • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is one of the best-selling books in the world.
  • Two or more self-help books are owned by self-made millionaires, an average of 85%. 
  • In 2020, according to Publishers Weekly A Promised Land will be the top seller. 
  • Becoming, had been outselling A Promised Land, selling more than 3 million copies.
  • Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People, with an average rating of 4.21 stars and over 700,000 ratings, his book is widely regarded as one of the greatest pieces of literature.
  • Various self-help statistics have revealed that millennials are considered the future of the market, with around 75 million consumers worldwide belonging to this generation. Currently baby boomers are the primary consumers of self-help services.
  • According to Goodreads, while three-quarters of overall readers are women, 62.5% of self-help books readers are also women.
  • The majority of self-help book authors are men and have a larger readership among women than men.
  • Deepak Chopra a motivational speaker and self-help author has a net worth of $150 million and is one of the wealthiest people in the self-improvement industry. His book The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success was on the New York Times Best Seller list for 72 weeks and had written 80 books as of 2015 and 21 of them New York Times bestsellers.
  • Motivational and inspirational books, which is the most popular subject in the self-help category, accounted for sales of 4.3 million units in 2019, rising from 1.4 million units in 2013. Last year in particular, sales of books like Girl, Stop Apologizing, by Rachel Hollis, and The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, by Mark Manson, propelled growth in this subject area.

The Top 12 most important personal development topics people look for in Self-Help

  • Confidence (10.2%)
  • Career / Interview (7.8%)
  • Motivation (7.0%)
  • Communication (Listening, Public Speaking, Presenting) (7.0%)
  • Strengths / Weaknesses (6.3%)
  • Self Understanding (5.5%)
  • Leadership (4.7%)
  • Optimism / Positivity / Happiness (4.7%)
  • Organization / Efficiency (4.7%)
  • Families / Parenting / Relationships (4.7%)
  • Purpose / Passion / Vision (3.9%)
  • Assertiveness / Attitude (3.1%)