Bestsellers of 2019

NPD Bookscan released numbers on sales from 2010 to 2019 and listed the top ten bestselling titles of that decade. E.L. James’s Fifty Shades of Grey titles took the top three slots (15.2 million for Fifty Shades of Grey, 10.4 million for Fifty Shades Darker, and 9.3 million for Fifty Shades Freed, all from Random House), with The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic) in fourth place with 8.7 million copies sold, and Divergent by Veronica Roth (HarperCollins) at number 10 with 6.6 million). In all, they counted 6.5 billion print books sold in that time, compared to 1.8 billion e-books. They noted a significant shift in buying habits by genre: in 2010, about 80% of bestselling books were fiction, down to just 32% in 2019, with non-fiction books about cooking, selfhelp, and politics selling better instead.

Bookstat, which tracks online sales of ebooks, audiobooks, and print titles, published its bestsellers of 2019 in Publishers Weekly: Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) was the second bestselling ebook, with 728,039 copies sold, followed by Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling (Pottermore) at number three with 636,039. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone also came in at seventh in bestselling audiobooks, with 487,951 copies sold; A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin (Penguin Random House) was ninth with 420,415, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets was 17th with 311,434, and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban rounding out the top 20 with 279,871. Bookstat tracks relative sales ranks at online booksellers and “calibrates” that data using real-time sales information from publisher partners to arrive at its numbers, and claims its results are within 1-4% of actual sales.

Publishers Weekly compiled their data on the bestselling adult titles of 2019 (on their own lists), and broke them down according to publisher for the Big Five. Penguin Random House led, with 215 books appearing in 825 positions, accounting for 39.7% of PW bestsellers in 2019, up from 38.3% in 2018. HarperCollins had 103 books in 322 positions, for 15.5% (down from 16%), Hachette 76 books in 313 positions, for 15% (up from 13.4%), Macmillan 66 titles in 264 positions for 12.7% (up from 8%), and Simon & Schuster 57 titles in 200 positions for 9.6% (down from 11.5%). PRH led in paperback, too, with 93 books in 578 positions for 27.8% (down from 32.4%), while HarperCollins had more books (165) in fewer positions (529) for 25.4% (up from 22.8%). Hachette was third with 60 books in 320 spots, for 15.4% (down from 17%), followed by Simon & Schuster with 35 books in 184 positions for 8.8% (up from 7.5%) and Macmillan with 28 titles in 132 positions for 6.3% (up from 4.4%). In all the Big Five accounted for 92.5% of adult hardcover sales (up from 87.2%), and 83.7% of paperbacks (down from 84.1%).

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