Research Outline

Top-Selling Genres in Fiction & Nonfiction


To identify market data within the US book publishing industry in order to prepare for a fundraiser; important data points include the market size for print, ebook, and audiobook publishing, biggest companies by market share and book type, as well as a revenue breakdown between fiction and nonfiction in the industry. The current objective is to identify the top five genres in both fiction and nonfiction by revenue in the book publishing market.

Early Findings


  • The top-selling genes in the US fiction market include the following (ranked from highest to lowest):
    • Romance/Erotica ($1.44B)
    • Crime/Mystery ($728.2M)
    • Religious/Inspirational ($720M) [please note that this category gets a little fuzzy because this genre while originally listed in fiction includes how-to books, holy texts, and memoirs which are nonfiction categories]
    • Science Fiction/Fantasy ($590.2M)
    • Horror ($79.6M)


  • The top-selling adult nonfiction genres by unit sales:
    • Art/Architecture/Design/Photography (7,802)
    • Biography/Autobiography/Memoir (23,098)
    • Business/Economics (19,374)
    • Cooking/Entertaining (17,803)
    • Computers (3,648)
  • However, for nonfiction, the sources of top are a bit varied. For instance, Statista notes that by unit sales in the first half of 2018, the top five rankings are religion/bibles (21.2M), reference (18M), sports/fitness/health (11.29M), business/economic (10.21M), and memoir (9.85M).