The lockdowns of 2020 left the UK population with a lot of time on our hands, which led to many of us reverting to old hobbies. As we all looked for an escape from our monotonous daily routines, we turned to fiction to transport us to a different place. A recent report from the Publishers Association has shown that there has been a significant increase in fiction and audiobook sales, with sales up 16%, in spite of the bookshop closures. Audio book sales were up 37%.
The best selling titles included Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo, The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman and Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens.
Non-fiction book sales also grew 4% during 2020, with the most popular titles including Pinch of Nom cookbooks and 7 ways by Jamie Oliver.
The Publishers Association commented that the data illustrates how “the nation turned to books for comfort, escapism and relaxation”. In addition, the chief executive Stephen Lotinga said “We are delighted but also a little surprised that the industry has managed to do so well” and claimed “There’s been a rediscovery of a love of reading”.
The PA recognised that 2020 was a more difficult year for authors due to the lack of events such as literary festivals, school visits and book tours. The association noted “Making sure authors can protect their livelihoods will remain a focus of the industry as we move forward”.
In addition, despite the overall prosperity of the industry during the pandemic, Lotinga said we should not ignore the difficulties faced by “education publishers, smaller publishers, booksellers and authors whose livelihoods have been enormously disrupted”.
On a more positive note, Lotinga rejoiced in the success in the industry and seemed excited for the future as he said “We need to harness this return to reading and build on the huge opportunity this presents”.
Words by Claudia Birchenough
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