October 2020 Book Sales Update: Best Book Genres & More

Digital books are in demand this year. Especially for those in traditional publishing, transitioning to digital formats has never been better. If you’re already self-publishing, you’re at the right place.




Self-published digital book sales are doing great in 2020

We’ve been paying close attention to the book market and sharing the trends since March 2020. As physical book sales falter because of the pandemic, digital has boomed. In October 2020 compared to 2019, we recorded a 58% increase in sales via PublishDrive.

In October’s report below, we give an overview of international digital book sales plus bestselling genres, categories, markets, and more. We’ll continue to update this study every 20th of the month, so tune in. We hope our insights help you make the best-informed decisions in your publishing process.

By the way, we talked about tips and tricks with online book marketing experts from Written Word Media: watch the recording.


Digital book sales still on the rise

In 2020, more people are seeking at-home entertainment, prioritizing digital means to get them. Movie-streaming services, video games, and books are in significant demand.

Since March 2020, PublishDrive’s digital book sales grew by 20%. In April, by 23%. In August, we reported a 69% increase in a one-year time period – 70% of those sales from global markets. As we approach the end of this year, we’re still seeing positive growth rates.


These growth trends are beneficial for PublishDrive users who keep 100% royalties. Since we don’t take any commission, indies get the same royalties as selling directly to stores. All this growth is 100% theirs.

(Start a free 14-day trial on PublishDrive to easily sell across global markets and stores. 👇)


Fantasy, science-fiction, & thriller genres performed well

In October, both fiction and non-fiction books performed well. Bestselling fiction genres included Action & Adventure, Crime, Fantasy, Erotica, Historical, Literary, Romance, Science Fiction, and Thriller. On the non-fiction side, Body, Mind & Spirit, Business, Education, Self-help, and Study Aids did well.


We dived deeper into subcategories and saw some cool numbers in October. To name a few, the Light Novel (Ranobe) subcategory under Young Adult Fiction had an impressive 2,200% hike. Other YA Fiction subcategories were popular, like Science Fiction with a 320% bump. The Personal Memoir subcategory under non-fiction Biographies had 220% growth. Here’s the rest of them:



Growth came from international markets

The US market has been stable in 2020, capturing around 23% of PublishDrive’s overall book sales. Meanwhile, international markets were responsible for 77%. Take a look at our bestselling countries in October:


In English-speaking markets, Australia saw growth by 25%, the UK by 16%, and Canada by 6% compared to the previous month. In South-East Asia, Singapore stood out. In Latin America, Chile, and Brazil. In Europe, many countries like Austria, Belgium, France, Italy, Norway, Poland, Romania, Spain, and Sweden performed well.


Online stores funneled the most sales

Book royalties come from different sources. For authors enrolled in KDP Select having to sell only to Amazon, they miss out on 60% of the market. In PublishDrive, we generate sales from more store types:

  • Retail: Major outlets reaching global readers. E.g. Amazon, Apple Books, Barnes & Noble, Google Play Books, and Kobo.
  • Subscription services: Applications or stores that provide unlimited access to books for a monthly subscription fee. E.g. Scribd, Bookmate, and Dreame.
  • Digital library providers: Book borrowing for not just individuals, but institutions like public libraries, schools, universities, or corporate libraries. E.g. OverDrive, Bibliotheca, Mackin, and Odilo.
  • Regional stores: Outlets that cover specific regions serving local communities. E.g. Tolino and Chinese stores.

As reader experience shifted especially this year, people are using online modes like subscription services and digital libraries:


In one year, Regional stores grew by 167%. Library sales more than tripled by 275%. Libraries like Mackin increased by 21%, and Bibliotheca by 229% in October compared to the previous month. Much of the growth came from Australia, Canada, Denmark, Mexico, Norway, Sweden, and the US.

Subscription models grew by 56% across markets: Australia, Canada, Chile, France, Germany, Hungary, Indonesia, Netherlands, Romania, Russia, South Africa, Spain, and the US.

Retailers grew by 9%. Interestingly, PublishDrive indies sold 93% more print copies in October compared to the previous month. We added print-on-demand (and audio) distribution to the platform earlier this year.

Online retailers like Google Play Books increased sales by 5% and Amazon by 32% compared to the previous month. The best-performing countries included Austria, Brazil, Canada, Hungary, Japan, Romania, South Africa, Spain, and the UK.


Ebook, audio, & print-on-demand are solid formats

We’ve been able to look at not just ebook, but audiobook and print-on-demand sales since April 2020. In October we’ve seen strong performance in audiobooks via Google Play and print via Amazon Print. See our top-performing stores for all formats:



Now is the time to sell digital books!

Although there can be lots to worry about this year, keep your chin about digital publishing. If you’re not selling online, we definitely encourage you to start. People want your books! Be sure to come back to PublishDrive’s blog for updates on what’s happening each month.




Are you signed up with PublishDrive yet? Start a free 14-day trial to publish and promote super easily:

Related posts

Are you looking for something on PublishDrive?