'Stratospheric' political book sales almost double in two years
Tuesday 12/March/2019 - 11:38 AM
Whether it boils down to a desperation to understand the intricacies of Theresa May’s backstop or a longing for reason in these troubled times، sales of politics books have almost doubled over the last two years، the guardian reported.
Data revealed at a London book fair conference on Monday showed that politics and government titles were the fastest-growing category in non-fiction، up by 170% in 2018، with 1.8m books sold. Driven by titles including Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury، which brought in sales worth almost £2.5m، and Reni Eddo-Lodge’s polemic Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race، which sold more than 100،000 copies، sales of political books were worth £20.4m last year، according to Nielsen Book، up from £11.7m in 2016.
Many of last year’s strong sellers dealt with Donald Trump، from Wolff’s hit title to Bob Woodward’s Fear and Jon Sopel’s If Only They Didn’t Speak English: Notes from Trump’s America. But readers were also seeking more classic fare: George Orwell’s Notes on Nationalism sold more than 20،000 copies، making it the year’s 13th bestselling politics title، and Karl Marx’s The Communist Manifesto came in 15th، selling almost 16،000 copies.
Titles such as Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls، celebrating the roles of women in history، also helped drive growth in children’s non-fiction، said Nielsen، with that category seeing sales up by 30% last year and 590،000 more books sold than in 2017. “One of the main contributors to this growth includes feminist and inspiring stories for children; books aimed at helping children boost confidence such as You Are Awesome by Matthew Syed; poetry and narrative information books،” said the book sales monitor.
London book fair director Jacks Thomas said the growth “highlights the vital role books play as a destination for deeper understanding of the world today”، while Waterstones politics buyer Clement Knox said: “Political issues have become more urgent … the stratospheric rise in politics titles is simply a natural response to what is going on in the wider world.”
Waterstones، the UK’s largest bookshop chain، said that it first saw political sales spike in the run-up to the Brexit vote، when it sold thousands of books about the EU and the referendum. The June vote، and the US election، prompted a rush to publish books tackling those issues، with booksellers now reaping rewards. In November 2018، the retailer said that it had sold more politics books that year than in the whole of 2015 or 2016، with its year-to-date politics sales up by more than 50%.
“Readers are certainly interested in insider accounts of political intrigue – see the hit success of Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury or Bob Woodward’s Fear – but what is remarkable in recent years is the focus on political theory and governance،” said Knox. He pointed to standout titles including How Democracies Die، How to Lose a Country، National Populism، The Road to Somewhere and How Democracy Ends: “This unlikely resurgence in interest in political theory is probably the most noteworthy feature of the boom in politics sales.”