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2021 Publishing Trends Recap

After a year unlike any other in 2020, 2021 was a rollercoaster of trying to get the world back to normal. For myself and many others, 2021 had lots of significant ups and downs, and life is finally, slowly, beginning to settle!

The last two years have also been turbulent for publishing. More people are reading, but the industry has certainly struggled, particularly on the individual level. A huge congratulations should go out to anyone who has published a book during these times - especially indies.

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


How are people reading?

In Australia, The Australian Publishers Association published a report named 'The National Reading Survey 2021'. Amongst its most interesting findings are that 75% of Australians read at least one book in the last year. However, this isn't necessarily good news. In 2020, only 8% didn't read a book, which means non-readers have nearly tripled.

The study also revealed:

  • Most Australians read for pleasure or to relax

  • Paperback fiction is the most popular choice, followed by hardcovers, ebooks, then audiobooks

  • Personal book recommendations (from friends and family) are significantly more trusted than those from social media

  • Libraries have been extremely important, with many saying books are too expensive to afford

  • Descriptive blurbs influenced readers to buy books, but cover review quotes and endorsements had very low influence

The bookseller says audiobooks 'soared' in the first half of 2021, with ebook sales also increasing. Audiobooks have been growing in popularity for a while, with many self-published authors now seeing it as a necessity to create an audio version for their readers.

For more on traditional publishing, Publishers Weekly has some great stats on major publishers in the US.

What they're reading

Romance has remained the #1 book genre, and it's likely to stay that way for a long time. It remains a lucrative - though saturated - option for indie writers. Contemporary and new adult fiction also did very well this year.

Goodreads has People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry, Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid, and The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah as the top three books of the year. See Goodreads' Most Popular books for 2021.

Also see Publishers Weekly's top 10 books for 2021.

Where they're finding books

Amazon continues to be the world's biggest bookshop, but surviving indie bookshops are making a comeback after 2020 had many struggling. People are loyal to their trusted booksellers and authors!

In digital marketing, 'BookTok' continued to rise. TikTok is now a gamechanger for self-published authors, and many say it has greatly increased their sales after their videos went viral. The app is no longer just for teens - authors across genres are finding success with it. 'Bookstagram' has a lot of competition, and many Bookstagrammers are moving over to TikTok.

As mentioned earlier, people are most likely to read a book if a family member or friend recommends it. This may mean it's important to encourage fans to share your work not just via reviews, but on an individual level.


Want more? Head to my shop and use code AWSOCIALS20 for 20% off my writing worksheets!


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