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2020 Publishing Recap

We're coming to the end of a year unlike any we've experienced before, with most individuals and businesses struggling immensely through events that had worldwide impact.

The impact on the publishing industry has been varied, with bigger companies thriving, and small businesses, like indie bookstores, struggling to the point of many closing down.

With all of this in mind, let's discuss the year in publishing!


Most popular genres and books

The 200 most popular titles this year, according to Goodreads, showed Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games prequel (The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes) as one of the top books of 2020, giving YA a boost. The other big YA novel of the year, Stephenie Meyer's much anticipated Midnight Sun, was far lower on the list.

Also in the top three were historical fiction novel The Vanishing Half, and contemporary fiction American Dirt. Both feature POC main characters, which is good news for the push on publishers to release more diverse stories. Also in Goodread's top 10 was memoir Untamed.

In non-fiction, cookbooks did well, unsurprisingly since everyone was stuck at home so much. Similarly, children's education book sales increased as children had to stay home from school.

Find more genre stats here.

Most popular places to buy

Amazon continues to be the world's biggest bookshop, but other ebook sites are emerging. For those of us who don't want to support Amazon, new platforms like are gaining popularity.

As Amazon and online shopping surged this year, indie booksellers found themselves shutting their doors indefinitely. This huge boost for Amazon is likely why Penguin bought S&S: a desperate attempt at competing.

But things are looking up for 2021 as avid readers rally to support their favourite indie booksellers.

Where did people find out about books?

Social media remained the biggest marketing tool for authors this year, especially with more self-publishing authors promoting their ebooks online.

TikTok has seen a boost, particularly in YA and MG, with authors posting video content to connect with their young audience. 'BookTok' is quickly becoming as big as 'Bookstagram'. Facebook remains to be a great advertising route for adult books, however. Goodreads and Bookbub remain popular book-specific platforms.

However, many authors agree that email marketing is their greatest tool. As the big publishers pushed their bigger-budget marketing campaigns, indies competed with smaller, more focused niche marketing, communicating directly with their readers.

Find more 2020 publishing data here.


What are your expectations for next year? Come back next Monday for my 2021 book predictions!


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