The holidays are a big time of the year for the US publishing industry. According to the NPD Group, that is when one-quarter (25%) of annual print book sales occur. Nearly 173 million books were sold in November and December 2019, the market research company found.

“Historically, the uptick in sales begins in the first week of November, but as the country continues to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, we are watching closely to see if we see the same book shopping patterns as in previous years,” says Kristen McLean, books industry analyst for NPD. “Book sales have been stronger than normal throughout the pandemic, so publishers have reason to be hopeful for good holiday tidings, and a strong finish to 2020.”

Cookbooks will be a strong category, as it has been all year. Due in large part to the pandemic, print unit sales for bread cookbooks in the United States grew 145 percent year over year, for the nine months ending September 2020. As the coronavirus pandemic shelter at home orders and restaurants closures forced more people to cook at home more, many turned to baking and bread-making as a way to pass the time and learn a new cooking skill.

As of October 2020, the NPD Group discovered there was a 15 percent increase in overall print cookbook sales compared to 2019.

“Many people found more time to cook when pandemic mitigation efforts began, which led to more experimentation and increasingly complex meals,” says McLean. “Baking offered a comforting escape and yeast suddenly became more difficult to find than toilet paper. Sales of bread cookbooks are still well above 2019 levels, and given that the pandemic is still with us, the bread-baking trend could be sticking around for a while.”