Bibles, workbooks, and ‘The Plague’: Meet the pandemic’s bestselling books

The Coronavirus crisis is reshuffling popular literature as we know it.


April 16, 2020

The hottest book in town right now is the Holy Bible. Over the last month, Tyndale House Publishers — one of several companies that sells Bibles and other religious texts — has seen 44% and 60% jumps in 2 of its major Bible editions. 

An executive told the Christian Post that this isn’t the first time people have turned to the company in a crisis: Business also boomed after 9/11. 

The publishing industry is stuck on a cliffhanger

With bookstores shuttering, festivals canceled, and major book releases postponed, publishers are feeling the crunch. Adult fiction dropped 21%, according to Forbes, with genre novels taking the biggest hint: 

  • Epic fantasy fell 25%.
  • Crime thrillers sunk 24%.

COVID-19 is reshuffling popular literature as we know it, and — religious texts aside — there are a few big winners.

Parents across the country are giving Brain Quest workbooks to their kids, and sales of children’s nonfiction were up almost 40% at one point in mid-March. One micropress — Modern Kid Press, run by a Texas couple — has 5 workbooks on Amazon’s Top 100 overall bestseller list.

Pestilence lit is the new crime novel

The other alphas of the new publishing industry: All those classic novels that you promised yourself you would get around to reading one day, like One Hundred Years of Solitude, and — of course — pandemic fiction.

This March, The Plague by Albert Camus and Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel each saw double to triple increases in sales, raising the ultimate question — why settle for escapism when you can drown your fears in the most dystopian version of reality?

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