Saturday, January 2, 2021

Boswell top 50 fiction hardcovers for 2020

Here are our top 50 hardcover fiction books for 2020

1. Homeland Elegies, by Ayad Akhtar
2. Everywhere You Don't Belong, by Gabriel Bump
3. The Vanishing Half, by Brit Bennett
4. The Second Home, by Christina Clancy
5. The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse, by Charlie Mackesy
6. Such a Fun Age, by Kiley Reid
7. The Glass Hotel, by Emily St. John Mandel
8. Trace Elements, by Donna Leon
9. Murder at the Mena House, by Erica Ruth Neubauer
10. The Dutch House, by Ann Patchett
11. Hamnet, by Maggie O'Farrell
12. Where the Crawdads Sing, by Delia Owens
13. Lakewood, by Megan Giddings
14. American Dirt, by Jeanine Cummings
15. The Mirror and the Light, by Hilary Mantel
16. Crooked Hallelujah, by Kelli Jo Ford
17. The Wild One, by Nick Petrie
18. Mexican Gothic, by Silvia Moreno Garcia
19. The Night Watchman, by Louise Erdrich
20. Saving Ruby King, by Catherine Adel West
21. The Searcher, by Tana French
22. Deacon King Kong, by James McBride
23. We Ride Upon Sticks, by Quan Barry
24. A Deadly Education, by Naomi Novik
25. Writers and Lovers, by Lily King
26. All the Devils Are Here, by Louise Penny
27. The Cold Millions, by Jess Walter
28. Anxious People, by Fredrik Backman
29. The Book of Longings, by Sue Monk Kidd
30. The Paris Hours, by Alex George
31. Leave the World Behind, by Rumaan Alam
32. The City We Became, by NK Jemisin
33. Transcendent Kingdom, by Yaa Gyasi
34. The Nickel Boys, by Colson Whitehead
35. The Water Dancer, by Ta-Nehisi Coates
36. The Midnight Library, by Matt Haig
37. A Time for Mercy, by John Grisham
38. The Long Petal of the Sea, by Isabel Allende
39. Ready Player Two, by Ernest Cline
40. The Coyotes of Carthage, by Steven Wright
41. Moonflower Murders, by Anthony Horowitz
42. The Invisible Life of Addie Larue, by VE Schwab
43. Oona Out of Order, by Margarita Montimore
44. Before the Coffee Gets Cold, by Toshikazu Kawaguchi
45. The Knockout Queen, by Rufi Thorpe
46. On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous, by Ocean Vuong
47. The Other Mrs., by Mary Kubica
48. The Lying Life of Adults, by Elena Ferrante
49. The Lives of Edie Pritchard, by Larry Watson
50. Weather, by Jenny Offill

Three titles in our top ten had no event momentum helping the titles along - The Vanishing Half, The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse (which some consider nonfiction), and Such a Fun Age (only we did sell a lot of books in expectation of an event, only the event didn't happen). You can also include The Dutch House, as that event was in 2019. I should mention that sales were up 35% for Patchett's hardcover over her last, even though our event for Commonwealth logged more sales (because we didn't share them with another store). 

On the hardcover nonfiction list, our top 4 books mimic most independents, I'm guessing - A Promised Land (and yes, it outsold Becoming in its first season), How to Be an Antiracist, Caste, and Untamed. #5 was The Well-Plated Cookbook, from local Erin Clarke. I found a recording error on one title, so the nonfiction list is not quite right. And there are a lot of special orders that we're grateful for, but don't really indicate very much about what's selling. We had these on the fiction list as well, but in that case, we picked the titles and chased them, so we take more credit.

On the paperback fiction list, our top two link to our library fundraiser event - Circe and The Song of Achilles from Madeline Miller, followed by The Overstory and Normal People. All four titles were major national bestsellers. #5 was Girl, Woman, Other, one of two Booker winners on our year-end list.  

One thing I kept noting throughout the year was how sales of our top titles were up during the pandemic, particularly when we were closed to browsing, at the expense of other titles that would gain through browsing, notably recent paperbacks. In fact, when I looked at #50 on the hardcover and paperback fiction lists, the story was there. Our #50 hardcover fiction title's sale was 40% higher than its equivalent in 2018, while the #50 paperback's sales was 20% lower than the 2018 title. 

White Fragility led our paperback nonfiction list with a combination of individual and group sales, with several other books about race - Stamped from the Beginning, So You Want to Talk About Race, and The Warmth of Other Suns - in our top 10. Also top 10 is Braiding Sweetgrass, the book of nature essays from a biology professor and member of the Potawatomi Nation whose sales were doubling every year until they exploded in 2021.

School and nonprofit sales drove just about every book in our top 50 kids titles, but I should give a shout out to The Snowy Day board book, which increased sales 20% over 2019 with almost all sales (I have a 5 copy school order) to individuals. Our top new middle grade book was Skunk and Badger. Our top new picture book was You Matter, helped along by a lot of programming. Thank you to all our partners and authors who helped put that programming together. It makes a difference!

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Great POV, Daniel. I always appreciate a behind-the-scenes perspective, especially in the book world.