These are the most popular books people read when they quarantine at home

In times of crisis, books can be the perfect medium for both education and escape.

And about six weeks after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, the book industry saw buyers stocking children’s exercise books and study aids; adult books on outdoor survival skills and medical history; as well as literary classics like “The Great Gatsby” and “Love in the Time of Cholera” as people prepare to shelter in place and home school their children over the summer, and possibly until the fall. Additionally, the UK Reading Agency reports that 31% of Britons are reading more since the start of the COVID-19 lockdown, including a ‘particular spike’ among readers aged 18-24.

Overall, U.S. book market sales were up 14% week-over-week for the week ending April 11, according to NPD BookScan’s latest report ahead of World Book Day on Thursday. And online book sales climbed 777% in the first half of April, compared to the first half of March before the stay-at-home orders were issued, according to Rakuten Intelligence.

Book sales were driven in particular by underage non-fiction, which increased 25% year-to-date and 65% for the six weeks ending April 11, according to NPD BookScan. “With more and more schools closing temporarily due to COVID-19, and with many parents now working from home, we are certainly seeing an increase in sales of educational books and children’s activities this week,” wrote Kristen McLean, book industry analyst for NPD. his report.

Indeed, the best-selling book on Amazon AMZN,
Thursday was “My First Workbook for Learning to Write”, which beats “Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens, which was the best-selling print book of 2019, as well as “Little Fires Everywhere” by Celeste Ng, which was adapted into an original Hulu series starring Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington.

“We’ve seen people buy a huge concentration of home and kids’ learning books – and as a parent myself, I can see why,” Barnes & Noble CEO James Daunt told MarketWatch . “You have them at home, and even with online education the kids will still have a lot of free time. Parents therefore really stock up on it.

Among adults, however, sales of survival books and home help are on the rise as Americans learn to become more independent. Jim Milliot, editorial director of Publishers Weekly, told MarketWatch that since March 1, books on outdoor survival skills have increased by 74% and books on medical history (including those on the pandemic of influenza of 1918) increased by 71%. “Home and gardening have also worked pretty well, but non-fiction travel books are on the decline, as you can imagine,” he said.

He also pointed out that HGTV “Fixer Upper” star Joanna Gaines was one of the biggest booksellers around with her glossy cookbook, “Magnolia Table, Vol. 2: A Recipe Collection For The Collection. ”

“I think in the future people are going to buy books closer to home and home, and keep the kids busy,” Milliot added.

And since Audible launched its Audible Stories service in March, which includes hundreds of free audiobooks for the whole family, ranging from “Stone Soup” and “Winnie the Pooh” to “The Call of the Wild,” a representative told MarketWatch that millions of daily visitors took advantage of the free story hour.

People also searched for craft and DIY books, Publishers Weekly noting that quilting and sewing books, doodle and coloring books have also seen strong sales over the past month as people search for quilting and sewing books. inexpensive ways to entertain yourself during a difficult time, which is similar to what was seen during the 2008 financial crisis.

A lot of people also want to escape reality and live in another character’s shoes. Daunt, who also runs Waterstones – the British equivalent of Barnes & Noble – has also seen classics of modern and historical literature once again captivate the imagination. Waterstones recently reported a 400% increase in online sales week-over-week, with a “significant increase” for iconic novels like “Beloved” by Toni Morrison, “The Great Gatsby” by F Scott Fitzgerald – and “Love in the Time of Cholera” by Gabriel García Marquez, of course. Even bestselling writers like Stephen King are dusting off the classics, with the horror writer revealing on Twitter TWTR,
last month he “Finally bypassed” to read “Ulysses” by James Joyce.

The NPD BookScan report noted that books are “an important resource” in times of crisis. During the 2008 downturn, “book sales increased every year between 2007 and 2011, with the exception of 2009, including 2010, when unemployment peaked.”

In addition, the number of people planning to give their mom a book for Mother’s Day this year jumped 22% from last year, according to the National Retail Federation.

But all is not sunny for the publishing industry. Massive closures of bookstore chains like Barnes & Noble, as well as independent bookstores and libraries, mean it can also be more difficult to promote book sales and get physical books into people’s hands. And Amazon AMZN,
which accounts for up to 50% of book sales in the United States, also removed the priority of book delivery in order to focus on shipping essential household items and medical supplies, meaning some buyers Potentials may abandon their online shopping cart if they see the book that they want that they can’t ship for a week or more.

“The good thing is that people read more. They have time, ”Daunt said. “And online sales are doing pretty well, but physical bookstores have lost 80 to 90% of their sales. And online sales will never replace the sheer volume of sales of 627 very large and busy bookstores. ”

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