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Kalpna Patel: Hello, everyone. Thank you for joining us for today's Tech Forum session.
I'm Kalpna Patel, Product Coordinator at BookNet. I'm joined today by my colleague, Lily
Dwyer, Product Manager. Welcome to our webinar, "Trending Now: Book Subjects on the
Move in the Canadian Market."
Before we get started, BookNet Canada acknowledges that its operations are remote and our
colleagues contribute their work from the traditional territories of the Mississaugas of the
Credit, the Anishinaabe, the Haudenosaunee, the Wyandot, the Mi'kmaq, the Ojibwa of Fort
William First Nation, the Three Fires Confederacy of First Nations, which includes the
Ojibwa, the Odawa, and the Potawatomie, and the Métis, the original nations and peoples of
the lands we now call Beeton, [Brampton], Guelph, Halifax, Thunder Bay, Toronto,
Vaughan, and Windsor. We encourage you to visit the native-land.ca website to learn more
about the people whose land you are joining from today.
Moreover, BookNet endorses the Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation
Commission of Canada and supports an ongoing shift from gatekeeping to space-making in
the book industry. The book industry has long been an industry of gatekeeping. Anyone who
works at any stage of the book supply chain carries a responsibility to serve readers by
publishing, promoting, and supplying works that represent the wide extent of human
experiences and identities in all that complicated intersectionality.
We at BookNet are committed to working with our partners in the industry as we move
towards a framework that supports space-making, which ensures that marginalized creators
and professionals all have the opportunity to contribute, work, and lead.
For our webinar today, if you're having difficulties with Zoom or have any tech-related
questions, please put your questions in the chat or you can email
techforum@booknetcanada.ca. We're providing live ASL and closed captioning for this
presentation. To see the captions, please find the Show Captions button in the Zoom menu at
the bottom of your screen. If during the presentation you have questions for us, please use the
Q&A panel found in the bottom menu.
Lastly, we'd like to remind attendees of the Code of Conduct. Please do be kind, inclusive, be
respectful of others, including of their privacy, be aware of your words and actions, and
please report any violations to techforum@booknetcanada.ca. Do not harass speakers, hosts,
or attendees, or record these sessions. We have a zero-tolerance policy. You can find the
entire Code of Conduct at bnctechforum.ca/code-of-conduct.
As I mentioned, there will be time for questions at the end of the session. But just to make
sure everyone gets the most out of that Q&A time, I'd like to do a little bit of housekeeping
and go over the scope and parameters of today's presentation. All of the data presented to you
today is from our SalesData retailer aggregation service. We will be looking specifically at
the sales of print books measured in units sold, but not at e-books or audiobooks.
We will be comparing sales in the all markets for 2023 over 2022, except in a few instances
where we will go back to the before times to look at pre-pandemic sales data. In this
presentation, we will not be comparing sales in the chain stores to independent retailers, but
rather looking at trends and subject market shares across all of the retailers that report their
sales to SalesData. The subject headings and categories we refer to today are based on
BISAC subjects, again, except in a few instances where a BISAC code currently doesn't exist
for the books and topics we're interested in, in which case we will be sure to outline which
codes we've mashed together when considering particular genres and trends.
Lastly, all of the market share research and reports we run to present these findings to you
today were created through the SalesData tool, which all subscribers have access to. In the
last few minutes of today's session, we'll do a quick demonstration to show you how we put
these reports together and how you can too. So, if you are a SalesData subscriber who's
interested in doing your own trendspotting research, please do stick with us until the end for
some useful tips. And if you're not a SalesData user, you should definitely stick around until
the end to learn about what tools and resources might be available to you.
Before we get to all the good stuff, let's get some of the not-so-good stuff out of the way.
Looking at data from SalesData retail aggregation service, we can see that sales for print
books were down by 9% in 2023 over 2022. This downward trend can be seen across all top
subject levels, with adult fiction down 4%, adult non-fiction down 11%, juvenile down 10%,
and young adult down 16%.
In looking at subject trends in 2023, we, of course, have to consider cultural, structural, and
economic shifts affecting book-buying behaviour. So, we're not mentioning these
percentages to bring you down but to provide some context for the numbers you'll see
throughout the presentation. As we look at which subjects are going up, we'll also revisit
some of the trends and discussion topics from our trendspotting session last year, and see if
those spikes have continued to stay sharp or if they've delved down to near-fad status. So, in
addition to looking ahead, we'll also review the past, and I'll pass it over to Lily to get us
started.
Lily Dwyer: Thanks, Kalpna. So, like Kalpna said, we're gonna start this presentation by
looking at some of the topics that were visited in last year's "Emerging Trends" presentation.
So, one of last year's hot topics was travel. We noticed that, of course, travel books took a
pretty big hit during the pandemic. And 2022 seemed to be the first year that travel books
were starting to have a comeback. So, this year, we were eager to see if the same trends
carried through into 2023.
So, when looking at Canadian travel in the first quarter of 2023, the National Travel Survey
reported that trips taken by Canadian residents increased by 43% over the same quarter in
2022. So, more Canadians are definitely travelling. And domestic travel, so of course,
travelling within Canada, was actually higher than pre-pandemic levels and accounted for
88% of all travel. So, travel to the U.S. from Canada appears to be back on track with pre-
pandemic levels and increased by 252% over the same period in 2022. And overseas travel,
on the other hand, while having a bit of a comeback as well, still remains below pre-
pandemic levels. So, we know that Canadians in 2023 are indeed travelling again, and they're
mostly sticking to trips that are closer to home, whether to the U.S. or within Canada.
So, can we see the same trends in travel books? So, here you can see how travel books have
been performing over the last few years. So, you can see it was at its highest point in 2018,
with almost 600,000 travel books sold that year. Then in 2020 and 2021, things really
plummeted with less than 250,000 travel books sold in each of those years. Then in 2022,
things are starting to go back up again. But in 2023, travel books actually declined slightly
again by 2%. So, travel may be up in 2023 over 2022, but it doesn't seem like the same trend
applies to book sales at this point.
And here are some of the top-selling travel books from 2023, which maybe can give you a
fun glance into the kinds of places that Canadians are travelling. So, you can see we have a
lot of Canadian travelling content in here. So, we have travel companions for Nova Scotia,
Ontario, and Alberta. And then there are also some international places reflected here as well,
like Portugal, Italy, and Japan. I don't know about you guys, but I feel like everyone I know
is going to Portugal right now, so it's fun to see that that appears there twice.
Moving on to games and activities. So, another thing that was noticed in last year's
presentation was that as Canadians were emerging from their homes and also travelling
more, they were buying games and activities that were more on-the-go friendly. So, one of
the things that was predicted was that this trend would continue to grow to move upwards as
Canadians also started travelling more.
So, was that prediction true? So, this graph here examines how items within the subcategory
puzzles of the games and activities BISAC heading have performed over the past few years.
So, you can see that the puzzle craze really started in 2020 as this was something to do while
everyone was stuck at home during lockdown. Looking at the different formats, we see that
in 2020, other puzzles, so that would be jigsaw puzzles, games, non-book items, accounted
for 57% of the total sales in the puzzle category. By 2021, these non-book puzzles accounted
for almost 70% of this category sales.
Heading a peak in 2022, it's interesting to see that puzzles and books sold close to the same
amount, but that puzzle books have started to surpass non-book items in 2023 for the first
time since the pandemic. So, it does appear that people are engaging differently with games
and activities and that they're favouring more portable items that can be enjoyed while
travelling with or without the company of others. So, the jigsaw puzzle curve looks maybe
more like a fad, whereas activity books might have more staying power.
So, here we have our top puzzle titles for 2023. And you can see that we do have some
jigsaw puzzles in here. But there are also puzzles in book format like the popular "Cain's
Jawbone," as well as some wordle books and brain teasers. So, yes, this is definitely
something to keep an eye on. And it would be interesting to see if the current popularity of
logic puzzles like these persevere in 2024.
Okay. So, another widely discussed topic that we've looked at in recent emerging trends
presentations was the performance of comics and graphic novels. So, something that we've
noticed in the past is that comics and graphic novels have been steadily increasing in
popularity, as was the case in both 2021 and 2022. So, did that trend carry through into
2023? As you can see here, 2023 proved to shake things up a bit for comics and graphic
novels. So, in this graph, you can see that gradual increase in comics and graphic novels
between 2018 and 2022 with a slight dip in 2020. However, 2023 is the first year where we
can see a significant decline in that subject, with a decrease of 17%. And I should note that in
this graph, we're looking at comics and graphic novels across all age ranges. So, that includes
adult, juvenile, and YA titles.
This graph here breaks down that performance by age group. So, you can see that between
2022 and 2023, comics and graphic novels went down in both the adult and the YA
categories. So, adults went down by 28% and YA went down by 31%. Juvenile was actually
the only age group that went up in this category at a slight 3%. So, here you can see the top-
selling titles for comics and graphic novels in 2023. Sorry. Yeah, the top-selling titles for
comics and graphic novels in 2023 across all age ranges.
So, we have the "Dog Man" and the "Cat Kid" books. We also have graphic novel
adaptations of "The Baby-Sitters Club," as well as the "Wings of Fire" series. We have Kate
Beaton's "Ducks," and we also have the latest "Heartstopper" book. So, you can see that in
2023, it was a category that included a lot of juvenile books as the top sellers.
Now, when we talk about comics and graphic novels, we should definitely look at manga
titles specifically. So, manga is a subcategory of comics and graphic novels in BISAC and
accounted for 43% of comics and graphic novel sales in 2023. So, that's a pretty significant
chunk. Manga also took a hit in 2023 and decreased by 32% across all age ranges. So, this
graph here shows you how that decrease was broken out among those different age
categories. So, you can see manga sales decreased in both the adult and the juvenile
categories with adult decreasing by 32% and juvenile decreasing by 16%.
It's a bit different for YA manga titles, however. So, for context, YA manga is a much
smaller category than adult or even juvenile manga. Their sales total to only about 0.2% of
all manga sales, but they also had the most significant growth, which we can see here had an
increase of 291% over 2022.
So, here you can see those top titles that have been driving YA manga. So, that includes the
"Cursed Princess Club" series, the "True Beauty" series, and the "Tower of God" series. So,
yes, this is sort of an interesting year for comics and graphic novels, as well as manga titles.
It would be interesting to see how these categories perform next year. For instance, could
both comics and graphic novels, as well as manga, bounce back? Or will they continue to
decrease? If one bounces back, will the other bounce back as well? And how does that
increase in YA manga factor in here? Will that continue to grow next year? So, this is
definitely something we'll wanna look out for in the coming months.
Okay. So, we've talked about travel. We've talked about comics and graphic novels. Let's talk
about romance. So, romance is another category in which we saw some steady growth over
the past few years. Between 2021 and 2022, we saw that romance as a category increased by
about 59%, which, again, that's pretty significant. So, how did romance fare in 2023? This
year, that growth has further increased by about 9% surpassing over 3 million units sold. So,
here is a category that has continued to grow even through 2023.
So, even though romance is still crushing it, it's interesting to see the shifts that have taken
place within that category over the past year. So, this graph here allows you to see some of
those shifts. So, we have contemporary romance. This is still one of the highest-performing
subcategories of romance in 2023 with Colleen Hoover, Hannah Grace, Carley Fortune, and
Lucy Score dominating the romance charts. However, you can see that there was a slight
shift in this category between 2022 and 2023 where contemporary romance went down by
5%.
Romantic comedy, so that's another higher-performing romance subcategory, and in 2023,
that also went down by 9%. And then also looking at regency, so this was a romance
subcategory that we saw trending in past years due to the popularity of the "Bridgerton"
Netflix series. So, in 2023, we can see that it's gone down by 35%. So, while subjects like
these have gone down, on the flip side, we've seen huge increases in the subcategory of
fantasy, which increased by 235% between 2022 and 2023.
And that brings us to our next topic for today, which is romantasy. So, I'm sure you've heard
about it. Everyone's talking about it. We certainly can't avoid it. So, let's get into it. So,
what's romantasy? "The Guardian" describes romantasy as a portmanteau of romance and
fantasy applied to novels that blend elements of both genres. So, these novels are typically
set in fantastical worlds with fairies, dragons, magic, but also feature a classic romance plot
lines. So, enemies to lovers, soulmates, and love triangles.
As a defined genre, it's been around since as early as 2008, but within the last year, it's really
taken off with authors like Sarah J. Maas and Rebecca Yarros. So, much of this boom is due
to its popularity on social media platforms like TikTok. There are also theories that readers
are responding to the elements of escapism that romantasy offers. So, while darker sub-
genres of fantasy were popular in the early 2010s, with gritty dark tales such as "Game of
Thrones," we're now seeing the rise of cozy fantasy and romantasy and fairy tale fantasy. So,
books that have a bit more of an uplifting feel to them.
Now, when we're looking at BISACs, there's no romantasy BISAC code. So, for the purpose
of this presentation, we looked at the following BISAC headings. Romance as a subcategory
within the fiction fantasy heading, fantasy as a subcategory within the fiction romance
heading, as well as romance within the young adult fantasy heading. Across all three of these
categories, there was significant growth between 2022 and 2023. So, with fantasy romance
increasing by 57%, we also had, as I said, romance fantasy increasing by 235%. And then we
also had YA fantasy romance increasing by 331%. So, we can absolutely confirm here that
the headlines are correct and that romantasy is moving up.
So, some top-performing titles for romance/fantasy in 2023 were the "Throne of Glass"
books by Sarah J. Mass, "A Soul of Ash and Blood" by Jennifer Armentrout, and "A Touch
of Darkness" by Scarlett St. Clair. Some top-performing titles for fantasy/romance in 2023
were the "A Cout of Thorns and Roses" books by Sarah J. Maas. We have another Sarah J.
Maas book, the "House of Sky and Breath" from her "Crescent City" series, "The Serpent
and the Wings of the Night" by Carissa Broadbent, the "Foxglove King" by Hannah Whitten,
"The Night and Its Moon" by Piper CJ, and "A Broken Blade" by Melissa Blair.
And finally, we have some top performing titles for YA fantasy/romance, and those were
titles from the Rebecca Ross's "Letters of Enchantment" series, Holly Black's "The Stolen
Heir" and "The Cruel Prince," Stephanie Garber's "Once Upon a Broken Heart" series,
"Powerless" by Lauren Roberts, and a couple of titles from Mary E. Pearson's "Dance of
Thieves" series.
Kalpna: You didn't really think we could talk about book trends without mentioning TikTok,
did you? Well, there, we've mentioned it, now we can move on having acknowledged that the
platform has done wonders for genre fiction. While fiction sales might have dropped in 2023,
we saw significant increase in the sales of Gothic fiction, which were up 200% over last year.
In last year's presentation, our colleagues noted that Gothic fiction was also up in 2022, a
trend that might have been related to the popularity of "Stranger Things" and other spooky
things on Netflix.
As Gothic fiction continues to trend this year, we've noticed that many of the genre's
bestselling books in 2023 were backlist titles. Several editions of Shirley Jackson's "The
Haunting of Hill House" were at the top of the list, in addition to classics like "Jane Eyre"
with a super creepy cover.
While book talk certainly has some influence in the romance and fantasy world, it looks like
Netflix continues to inspire interest in the horror space. Last year's release of "The Fall of the
House of Usher" had many people returning to Director Mike Flanagan's 2018 series based
on "The Haunting of Hill House," thus renewing interest in those books in 2023.
We're going to switch gears a little bit now and look at non-fiction. Last year's presentation
included a discussion of the rise in popularity of zero-proof drinks and mocktails. So, we've
decided to take a closer look at buying trends and the consumption of alcoholic versus non-
alcoholic beverages over the last year. According to Stats Canada, alcohol sales and
consumption had the largest increase in over a decade in 2020, though I can't imagine why.
And this graph also shows there was a corresponding increase in the sales of books about
alcoholic beverages in 2020, things like wine guides, cocktail recipes, and such.
Sales of these books, though, decreased in 2021, stayed flat across 2022, but started to dip
again in 2023. A steep rise in the price of alcohol at the end of 2022, as well as the new
guidelines for low-risk alcohol use issued by the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and
Addiction at the beginning of 2023 have definitely influenced buying behaviour throughout
the year and appears to be encouraging people to explore the world of zero-proof drinks and
mocktails, as there has been a 40% increase in the sale of books in the non-alcoholic
beverages category.
A "Toronto Star" article published just 10 days ago features a story about Zero Cocktail Bar,
one of the country's only booze-free bars that's just opened, and discusses how the mocktail
trend continues to gain momentum at bars and restaurants. In this article, the marketing
director of Clearsips, which is an importer and distributor of zero-proof spirits, says, and I
quote, "The trend was just starting in 2022, but now it's on fire. At the Restaurants Canada
Trade Show in the past, we've had to approach buyers and really sell our products. Now
buyers come to us saying they're mandated to offer non-alcohol options. For now, it does
look like this expectation will extend to the drink section of bookstores as well."
Before we continue looking at trends in adult non-fiction, let's talk a little bit about
demographics. Just last week, a study published by Stats Can revealed that Millennials, so
people currently aged 28 to 43, now outnumber boomers, those aged 60 to 78 in Canada.
According to BookNet's own Canadian Book Consumer Survey, we know that book buyers
aged 35 to 44, that is older millennials and younger Gen Xers, bought the most print books in
2022.
So, what books were these folks buying? A huge increase we are seeing in women's health
titles with sales up 185% over 2022 and books about menopause, which are up 32% over
2022 means there are a lot of perimenopausal book buyers out there. The data here clearly
reflects this demographic shift. And we anticipate that the interest in these subjects and a
demand for books written by and for those navigating this period in their lives will only
increase.
Another interesting thing to consider about this possibly perimenopausal print book-buying
group of people is that many of them have children, and these children are or will be soon
navigating their own changes. Gen X and Gen Y must prepare for some very serious talks
with Gen Z, which is why we think the demand for books about changing times and
changing bodies that are diverse and gender-neutral will be on the rise.
The demand for books like these was actually made very clear back in 2018 when changes to
the sex ed curriculum in Ontario had parents and caregivers scrambling for resources. This
was, of course, the year Ontario reverted to the old curriculum and reinstated a version from
1998, literally setting sex education back a decade. Between this move and the move to
online and at-home learning that would soon become the norm, it really became up to us to
educate and inform the young people in our lives.
This May, the world celebrates the 10th Annual Menstrual Hygiene Day initiated by the
German non-profit, WASH United. The goal of this global day of action is to create a world
where periods are a normal fact of life by 2030. Personally, I'd be thrilled just to see some
new BISAC codes for puberty and menstruation put into place by then. The bestselling books
pictured here can currently be found under subheadings such as Social Themes, Activism and
Social Justice, Girls and Women, Adolescents and Coming of Age, Health and Daily Living,
Maturing, Sexuality and Pregnancy, Self-esteem and Self-Reliance, and Personal Hygiene.
We're gonna move on now to YA non-fiction and zoom out just a little. It's not only sex ed
books that are in demand. 2023 saw an overall increase in young adult non-fiction. Sales
were up 23% over 2022. The bestselling YA non-fiction title continues to be 2022's young
adult adaptation of "Braiding Sweetgrass." Among the other bestsellers pictured here, you'll
notice a few other adaptations. Viktor Frankl's "Man's Search for Meaning," as well as a
young reader's edition of "How to Be an Anti-Racist."
Many of these are among more recent titles in a growing collection of popular adult non-
fiction titles being adapted for a younger audience such as roung reader's editions of Michelle
Obama's "Becoming," Isabel Wilkerson's "Caste," Ta-Nehisi Coates' "The Beautiful
Struggle," Ibram Kendi's "Stamped from the Beginning," and Sam Kean's "The Disappearing
Spoon."
We are almost nearing the end of our hour with you, and with that, we'd like to send you off
with some good news. BookNet Canada sits on the North American Committee that compiles
the BISAC subject headings list and aims to support and represent Canadian interests. In
recent years, BookNet's representatives on the committee have advocated for changes that
would see an overall decolonization of the terminology and structure of the BISAC codes list
to represent evolving terminology and efforts at reconciliation.
Working with a group of industry professionals who are similarly interested in decolonizing
BISAC subject codes, and with a specific focus on examining existing codes in the adult
fiction and non-fiction categories, they've worked to identify and address gaps in code
assignment for indigenous subjects where sufficient titles are already circulating in the
market. On the market level, the demand for books classified as indigenous continues to
grow, and an increase in indigenous subjects' headings is a response to this growth. The 2023
BISAC release is a major step towards meeting the increasing need for more codes to
accurately and meaningfully express indigeneity in these new codes that went live on
SalesData earlier this month.
The new codes can be found across all top-level subjects. For example, where there used to
be 1 code for indigenous fiction, there are now 19 codes reflecting the many genres of
indigenous storytelling. Juvenile fiction has gone from having 5 indigenous codes to 17,
including those for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis, which would reflect Canadian content.
Young adult fiction has gone from having 3 indigenous codes to 21. Juvenile non-fiction has
gone from 3 to 18. Young adult non-fiction has also gone from 3 to 17. And before this
update, there were 14 BISAC codes to express indigenity over 47 non-fiction subject
headings. Today, after the update, there are just over 60. All of these codes are now live in
SalesData, and we look forward to seeing these subjects become more populated with new
and existing titles.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this session, all of the data and reports presented here
were pulled through the SalesData tool. No crystal balls were consulted, no cards were read,
and as a SalesData user, you too can conduct this type of subject trend research, and we'd
like to spend a few minutes to show you how.
Lily: Right. So, one of the things that we really wanted to undertake in this presentation was
we really wanted to emphasize that all of this data, if you're a SalesData user, is something
that you can absolutely pull yourself. So, to look at subject trends specifically, all you need
to do is run a market share report in SalesData. A market share report lets you calculate
percentages of publisher, distributor, subject, and format sales in the all markets aggregate.
So, that's across all retailers that are reporting to SalesData.
So, unlike some of our other reports that examine title level data, a market share report takes
more of a zoomed-out approach and lets you look at overall trends in the market. So, Kalpna
is gonna show you how you can pull this data by inputting specific subjects. But first, I
wanted to highlight that we do have this new feature called the Top 500 Subjects toggle. So,
by new, I mean within the past year. So, if you turn this on, you'll be able to pull a report of
the top 500 performing subjects and compare how they're doing over time. So, with this
option, you don't really even need to have a sense of what it is you're looking for. You can
just pull kind of a very large list and pick out what it is that interests you from there.
Kalpna: Okay. So, let's give this thing a whirl. Let's say we're interested in cookbook trends.
Before I became a data nerd here at BookNet, I must confess I was an indie bookseller. And
trying to curate a high-performing cookbook session was always a challenge. Cookbooks are
expensive and they take up a lot of space. I needed a strategy. In the last year or two, salad
books were all the rage. But I'm also hearing that the rising food costs means that sales of
fresh fruit and vegetables and other perishable goods are dwindling. Maybe the salad trend
will turn into a zero-waste cooking trend? Who knows?
The bread books that were so popular at the start of the pandemic, starting to get a little bit
dusty, but some recent heavy hitters in the dessert world makes me think I should not start
skimping on my baking section. And lastly, do people even still care about charcuterie
boards? We can run the market share report that Lily just described to get some answers. So,
this is gonna be a whirlwind tutorial, very basic start about how to set up a market share
report in SalesData.
Right now, I'm in my SalesData account, and going over to the Market Share tab to generate
my report, I will select the Subject tab. But because I'm interested in specific subjects, I'm
not going to use the Top 500 Subjects toggle that Lily just showed to us. I will manually
select the subjects that I want to look at. Here, I've selected the subjects that best match the
sections of the store that I was interested in. Appetizers to capture those charcuterie boards,
desserts, and salads. For the reporting period, I've chosen to look at these subjects year over
year, starting with 2023, and that will let me view results going back as far as 2014.
And here, we've got some results. At a glance, I can see that dessert books dipped in 2021
probably because everyone was busy baking bread. The sales started to increase in 2022 and
then exploded in 2023 with an increase of 292%. While salad books steadily increased from
2020 to 2022, sales plummeted in 2023, going down by 51%. And appetizers have been
steadily decreasing with sales down 25% over 2022, which suggests that maybe people are
over boards.
All right. That's it. Now it's over to you. We're going to turn to questions that have come in
from the attendees. And if you have not sent in your question yet, please feel free to put them
in the Q&A panel. Lily, you ready?
Lily: Yeah.
Kalpna: All right. Let's have a look at some of these questions. Okay. All right. Here's a
question, you mentioned that BookNet has worked to add more codes relating to indigenous
subjects for the 2023 BISAC list, and that we need more codes for books on period and
puberty. How can people request new codes to BISAC and what is that process like? I
believe the best way to go about this is sending us an email. You can email
standards@booknetcanada.ca. As I mentioned, BookNet does represent Canada on this North
American Committee and can make requests on the market's behalf. Please get in touch with
our standards team and you can use that email and we'll be in touch.
Here's a question maybe for Lily. Did all of this data come from SalesData? Can non-
BookNet users get all of this information?
Lily: All of this is from SalesData. If you wanna pull the reports yourself, then yes, you do
have to have a SalesData account with us. If you are interested in having an account, you can
reach out to us at salesdata@booknetcanada.ca. We also provide some research materials
throughout the year as well, which you do need a SalesData account to have access to. But
we also have our Booknet Canada blog, which is available to anyone. Did I miss anything,
Kalpna?
Kalpna: Sounds good to me. Please note that we could also always get back to anyone if we
don't have full enough answers for you just off the cuff now. So, please do put in your
questions, and if we can't answer them right away, we will definitely follow up and get back
to you. Another question, I think we can answer this pretty easily. Is it possible to run all of
the reports you did for the subjects year over year while also filtering for Canadian
contributors?
Lily: Yes. You can do that. There are various filter options that we have available on the
market share report and one of them is indeed a Canadian contributor filter. So, if you turn
that toggle on, it'll return anything that has a contributor in its metadata that designates it as
Canadian, whether it's the author, whether the illustrator, the editor, they'll show up in there.
Kalpna: This is a good one. Any Excel tips for us? I wish SalesData could make my graphs
for me. Tell me about it. I think my only tip would be save your report and download it in
Excel and open it in Sheets. That's not really an answer, but Sheets is so much more
accessible, I find. It's a lot easier to use and you can do pretty much the same stuff. A lot of
the reports and analysis actually that we did here, we started off with those market share
reports, the one that I quickly showed you, downloaded them into Excel. I would then open
them in Sheets to calculate percentage increases and decreases. And they're also a little bit
easier to share with colleagues as well, because everyone can access those documents. So,
my trick about Excel is don't use Excel.
Lily: Yeah, we did a lot of math within Excel for this presentation. And I think we also did a
presentation a few years ago with some tips on how to use SalesData in Excel kind of in
tandem. So, that would definitely be available on the blog for you to find.
Kalpna: Another question that just came through, do you have any data on children's picture
books? A lot of the subjects we mentioned, I realize, do impact picture books, but picture
books aren't a subject, so it's not so easy to get data specific to picture books using SalesData.
Scrolling through to make sure we didn't miss anyone. Any tips and tricks to consider when
we're trying to make our own versions of these reports in SalesData? In terms of market
share... Actually, Lily, go for it.
Lily: I always say just my top tip anytime when you're using any report with SalesData is
just like we have little things that you can do to just save time. So, if these are reports that
you think you would wanna like look back on repeatedly, like say you wanna remind
yourself that you wanna see how did comics and graphic novels do in Q2 of 2024, you can
set a report to be emailed to you directly so that you'll have the kind of updated information
for that BISAC code as it's coming in and we're releasing it into SalesData. So, anything that
saves you time in your busy day is really my top tip.
Kalpna: That's great. I can say honestly, while we were running so many different reports
for this session and trying to go back and revisit, it was really useful to have everything
already set up so that we weren't having to input all that different criteria over and over
again. So, save and distribute and email, definitely. I think we still have time for a couple
more. Another question here is, are all the new indigenous BISAC codes live now or still to
come?
Lily: They're live. We're very excited to say they're live as of a couple of weeks ago, I think,
at this point. So, yes, they're all there for you to start looking at. I know some of them, you
might not see titles that have...you know, you'll not see as many titles with the subject codes
because we might be waiting for new titles to come in with those subject codes applied. But
yes, they are live on SalesData for you to search with.
Kalpna: And how often do we refresh our BISAC codes?
Lily: Once a year. So, we try to do it as early in the year as possible. So, the new codes come
through at the end of the previous year. So, right now, we have the 2023 codes that came
through in December, I believe, and we pushed them up in February of this year.
Kalpna: I think we have made our way mostly through this list. This might be a good one to
end on. We'll have to think a little bit about it. But were any of these trends surprising to
you? Were there any trends you had expected to see that didn't show up in the book sales?
Lily: I think it's something really shocking.
Kalpna: I know. I'm trying to. I was quite pleasantly surprised with the increase in sales on
the women's health titles. A topic we did not discuss in this presentation also were memoir
and biography, which I feel like in the last year with such huge titles like Britney Spears and
Barbra Streisand and there were so many others, I think I expected to see a bit more of a shift
or an increase there and I don't think there was anything that notable though. That section is
always or that subject is always very popular anyway.
Lily: Yeah. I guess I don't know if I was expecting comics and graphic novels to go down as
much as it did.
Kalpna: That was a shock. Yes.
Lily: Yeah. I think one thing that's interesting maybe about that one is...so we also have
library data and there's a similar report that you can pull with that that specifically just looks
at library circulation. And while it went down in SalesData, it actually went up for library
data and the same thing with travel actually. So, it's interesting to see where things went
down in sales but are kind of going up in library.
Kalpna: A question that's just coming in regarding what you just mentioned, the name of
that report in library data.
Lily: Is the trend analysis report. So, you can look at subject trends and language trends in
that library report.
Kalpna: All right. Making our way through this dock, it looks like we've covered a lot of
things, most things. If there are any other questions that come to you when we sign off,
please do feel free to get in touch. Actually, Lily, do you wanna share that last slide that has
our email address? I'll throw that up, but in any event, it is...
Lily: I can. There.
Kalpna: There we go. Salesdata@booknetcanada.ca. Any questions sent to that email will
come directly to Lily and I and a ton of other people. So, you will get answers hopefully
fairly quickly. And that about wraps it up for us. Thank you so much for joining us. Before
we go, we'd love it if you could provide feedback on this session. We'll drop a link to the
survey in the chat. Please take a couple of minutes to fill it out. We'll also be emailing you a
link to a recording of this session as soon as it's available. So, don't worry if you didn't take
notes. It'll all be there for you.
To our attendees, we invite you to join our upcoming session, "Book Industry State of the
Nation 2024." That's scheduled for April 2nd. You can find information about all upcoming
events and recordings of previous sessions on our website, bnctechforum.ca. Lastly, we'd like
to thank the Department of Canadian Heritage for their support through the Canada Book
Fund, and thank you to all of you for attending.

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Transcript: Trending now: Book subjects on the move in the Canadian market - Tech Forum 2024

  • 1. Kalpna Patel: Hello, everyone. Thank you for joining us for today's Tech Forum session. I'm Kalpna Patel, Product Coordinator at BookNet. I'm joined today by my colleague, Lily Dwyer, Product Manager. Welcome to our webinar, "Trending Now: Book Subjects on the Move in the Canadian Market." Before we get started, BookNet Canada acknowledges that its operations are remote and our colleagues contribute their work from the traditional territories of the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishinaabe, the Haudenosaunee, the Wyandot, the Mi'kmaq, the Ojibwa of Fort William First Nation, the Three Fires Confederacy of First Nations, which includes the Ojibwa, the Odawa, and the Potawatomie, and the Métis, the original nations and peoples of the lands we now call Beeton, [Brampton], Guelph, Halifax, Thunder Bay, Toronto, Vaughan, and Windsor. We encourage you to visit the native-land.ca website to learn more about the people whose land you are joining from today. Moreover, BookNet endorses the Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada and supports an ongoing shift from gatekeeping to space-making in the book industry. The book industry has long been an industry of gatekeeping. Anyone who works at any stage of the book supply chain carries a responsibility to serve readers by publishing, promoting, and supplying works that represent the wide extent of human experiences and identities in all that complicated intersectionality. We at BookNet are committed to working with our partners in the industry as we move towards a framework that supports space-making, which ensures that marginalized creators and professionals all have the opportunity to contribute, work, and lead. For our webinar today, if you're having difficulties with Zoom or have any tech-related questions, please put your questions in the chat or you can email techforum@booknetcanada.ca. We're providing live ASL and closed captioning for this presentation. To see the captions, please find the Show Captions button in the Zoom menu at the bottom of your screen. If during the presentation you have questions for us, please use the Q&A panel found in the bottom menu. Lastly, we'd like to remind attendees of the Code of Conduct. Please do be kind, inclusive, be respectful of others, including of their privacy, be aware of your words and actions, and please report any violations to techforum@booknetcanada.ca. Do not harass speakers, hosts, or attendees, or record these sessions. We have a zero-tolerance policy. You can find the entire Code of Conduct at bnctechforum.ca/code-of-conduct. As I mentioned, there will be time for questions at the end of the session. But just to make sure everyone gets the most out of that Q&A time, I'd like to do a little bit of housekeeping and go over the scope and parameters of today's presentation. All of the data presented to you today is from our SalesData retailer aggregation service. We will be looking specifically at the sales of print books measured in units sold, but not at e-books or audiobooks. We will be comparing sales in the all markets for 2023 over 2022, except in a few instances where we will go back to the before times to look at pre-pandemic sales data. In this presentation, we will not be comparing sales in the chain stores to independent retailers, but
  • 2. rather looking at trends and subject market shares across all of the retailers that report their sales to SalesData. The subject headings and categories we refer to today are based on BISAC subjects, again, except in a few instances where a BISAC code currently doesn't exist for the books and topics we're interested in, in which case we will be sure to outline which codes we've mashed together when considering particular genres and trends. Lastly, all of the market share research and reports we run to present these findings to you today were created through the SalesData tool, which all subscribers have access to. In the last few minutes of today's session, we'll do a quick demonstration to show you how we put these reports together and how you can too. So, if you are a SalesData subscriber who's interested in doing your own trendspotting research, please do stick with us until the end for some useful tips. And if you're not a SalesData user, you should definitely stick around until the end to learn about what tools and resources might be available to you. Before we get to all the good stuff, let's get some of the not-so-good stuff out of the way. Looking at data from SalesData retail aggregation service, we can see that sales for print books were down by 9% in 2023 over 2022. This downward trend can be seen across all top subject levels, with adult fiction down 4%, adult non-fiction down 11%, juvenile down 10%, and young adult down 16%. In looking at subject trends in 2023, we, of course, have to consider cultural, structural, and economic shifts affecting book-buying behaviour. So, we're not mentioning these percentages to bring you down but to provide some context for the numbers you'll see throughout the presentation. As we look at which subjects are going up, we'll also revisit some of the trends and discussion topics from our trendspotting session last year, and see if those spikes have continued to stay sharp or if they've delved down to near-fad status. So, in addition to looking ahead, we'll also review the past, and I'll pass it over to Lily to get us started. Lily Dwyer: Thanks, Kalpna. So, like Kalpna said, we're gonna start this presentation by looking at some of the topics that were visited in last year's "Emerging Trends" presentation. So, one of last year's hot topics was travel. We noticed that, of course, travel books took a pretty big hit during the pandemic. And 2022 seemed to be the first year that travel books were starting to have a comeback. So, this year, we were eager to see if the same trends carried through into 2023. So, when looking at Canadian travel in the first quarter of 2023, the National Travel Survey reported that trips taken by Canadian residents increased by 43% over the same quarter in 2022. So, more Canadians are definitely travelling. And domestic travel, so of course, travelling within Canada, was actually higher than pre-pandemic levels and accounted for 88% of all travel. So, travel to the U.S. from Canada appears to be back on track with pre- pandemic levels and increased by 252% over the same period in 2022. And overseas travel, on the other hand, while having a bit of a comeback as well, still remains below pre- pandemic levels. So, we know that Canadians in 2023 are indeed travelling again, and they're mostly sticking to trips that are closer to home, whether to the U.S. or within Canada.
  • 3. So, can we see the same trends in travel books? So, here you can see how travel books have been performing over the last few years. So, you can see it was at its highest point in 2018, with almost 600,000 travel books sold that year. Then in 2020 and 2021, things really plummeted with less than 250,000 travel books sold in each of those years. Then in 2022, things are starting to go back up again. But in 2023, travel books actually declined slightly again by 2%. So, travel may be up in 2023 over 2022, but it doesn't seem like the same trend applies to book sales at this point. And here are some of the top-selling travel books from 2023, which maybe can give you a fun glance into the kinds of places that Canadians are travelling. So, you can see we have a lot of Canadian travelling content in here. So, we have travel companions for Nova Scotia, Ontario, and Alberta. And then there are also some international places reflected here as well, like Portugal, Italy, and Japan. I don't know about you guys, but I feel like everyone I know is going to Portugal right now, so it's fun to see that that appears there twice. Moving on to games and activities. So, another thing that was noticed in last year's presentation was that as Canadians were emerging from their homes and also travelling more, they were buying games and activities that were more on-the-go friendly. So, one of the things that was predicted was that this trend would continue to grow to move upwards as Canadians also started travelling more. So, was that prediction true? So, this graph here examines how items within the subcategory puzzles of the games and activities BISAC heading have performed over the past few years. So, you can see that the puzzle craze really started in 2020 as this was something to do while everyone was stuck at home during lockdown. Looking at the different formats, we see that in 2020, other puzzles, so that would be jigsaw puzzles, games, non-book items, accounted for 57% of the total sales in the puzzle category. By 2021, these non-book puzzles accounted for almost 70% of this category sales. Heading a peak in 2022, it's interesting to see that puzzles and books sold close to the same amount, but that puzzle books have started to surpass non-book items in 2023 for the first time since the pandemic. So, it does appear that people are engaging differently with games and activities and that they're favouring more portable items that can be enjoyed while travelling with or without the company of others. So, the jigsaw puzzle curve looks maybe more like a fad, whereas activity books might have more staying power. So, here we have our top puzzle titles for 2023. And you can see that we do have some jigsaw puzzles in here. But there are also puzzles in book format like the popular "Cain's Jawbone," as well as some wordle books and brain teasers. So, yes, this is definitely something to keep an eye on. And it would be interesting to see if the current popularity of logic puzzles like these persevere in 2024. Okay. So, another widely discussed topic that we've looked at in recent emerging trends presentations was the performance of comics and graphic novels. So, something that we've noticed in the past is that comics and graphic novels have been steadily increasing in popularity, as was the case in both 2021 and 2022. So, did that trend carry through into 2023? As you can see here, 2023 proved to shake things up a bit for comics and graphic
  • 4. novels. So, in this graph, you can see that gradual increase in comics and graphic novels between 2018 and 2022 with a slight dip in 2020. However, 2023 is the first year where we can see a significant decline in that subject, with a decrease of 17%. And I should note that in this graph, we're looking at comics and graphic novels across all age ranges. So, that includes adult, juvenile, and YA titles. This graph here breaks down that performance by age group. So, you can see that between 2022 and 2023, comics and graphic novels went down in both the adult and the YA categories. So, adults went down by 28% and YA went down by 31%. Juvenile was actually the only age group that went up in this category at a slight 3%. So, here you can see the top- selling titles for comics and graphic novels in 2023. Sorry. Yeah, the top-selling titles for comics and graphic novels in 2023 across all age ranges. So, we have the "Dog Man" and the "Cat Kid" books. We also have graphic novel adaptations of "The Baby-Sitters Club," as well as the "Wings of Fire" series. We have Kate Beaton's "Ducks," and we also have the latest "Heartstopper" book. So, you can see that in 2023, it was a category that included a lot of juvenile books as the top sellers. Now, when we talk about comics and graphic novels, we should definitely look at manga titles specifically. So, manga is a subcategory of comics and graphic novels in BISAC and accounted for 43% of comics and graphic novel sales in 2023. So, that's a pretty significant chunk. Manga also took a hit in 2023 and decreased by 32% across all age ranges. So, this graph here shows you how that decrease was broken out among those different age categories. So, you can see manga sales decreased in both the adult and the juvenile categories with adult decreasing by 32% and juvenile decreasing by 16%. It's a bit different for YA manga titles, however. So, for context, YA manga is a much smaller category than adult or even juvenile manga. Their sales total to only about 0.2% of all manga sales, but they also had the most significant growth, which we can see here had an increase of 291% over 2022. So, here you can see those top titles that have been driving YA manga. So, that includes the "Cursed Princess Club" series, the "True Beauty" series, and the "Tower of God" series. So, yes, this is sort of an interesting year for comics and graphic novels, as well as manga titles. It would be interesting to see how these categories perform next year. For instance, could both comics and graphic novels, as well as manga, bounce back? Or will they continue to decrease? If one bounces back, will the other bounce back as well? And how does that increase in YA manga factor in here? Will that continue to grow next year? So, this is definitely something we'll wanna look out for in the coming months. Okay. So, we've talked about travel. We've talked about comics and graphic novels. Let's talk about romance. So, romance is another category in which we saw some steady growth over the past few years. Between 2021 and 2022, we saw that romance as a category increased by about 59%, which, again, that's pretty significant. So, how did romance fare in 2023? This year, that growth has further increased by about 9% surpassing over 3 million units sold. So, here is a category that has continued to grow even through 2023.
  • 5. So, even though romance is still crushing it, it's interesting to see the shifts that have taken place within that category over the past year. So, this graph here allows you to see some of those shifts. So, we have contemporary romance. This is still one of the highest-performing subcategories of romance in 2023 with Colleen Hoover, Hannah Grace, Carley Fortune, and Lucy Score dominating the romance charts. However, you can see that there was a slight shift in this category between 2022 and 2023 where contemporary romance went down by 5%. Romantic comedy, so that's another higher-performing romance subcategory, and in 2023, that also went down by 9%. And then also looking at regency, so this was a romance subcategory that we saw trending in past years due to the popularity of the "Bridgerton" Netflix series. So, in 2023, we can see that it's gone down by 35%. So, while subjects like these have gone down, on the flip side, we've seen huge increases in the subcategory of fantasy, which increased by 235% between 2022 and 2023. And that brings us to our next topic for today, which is romantasy. So, I'm sure you've heard about it. Everyone's talking about it. We certainly can't avoid it. So, let's get into it. So, what's romantasy? "The Guardian" describes romantasy as a portmanteau of romance and fantasy applied to novels that blend elements of both genres. So, these novels are typically set in fantastical worlds with fairies, dragons, magic, but also feature a classic romance plot lines. So, enemies to lovers, soulmates, and love triangles. As a defined genre, it's been around since as early as 2008, but within the last year, it's really taken off with authors like Sarah J. Maas and Rebecca Yarros. So, much of this boom is due to its popularity on social media platforms like TikTok. There are also theories that readers are responding to the elements of escapism that romantasy offers. So, while darker sub- genres of fantasy were popular in the early 2010s, with gritty dark tales such as "Game of Thrones," we're now seeing the rise of cozy fantasy and romantasy and fairy tale fantasy. So, books that have a bit more of an uplifting feel to them. Now, when we're looking at BISACs, there's no romantasy BISAC code. So, for the purpose of this presentation, we looked at the following BISAC headings. Romance as a subcategory within the fiction fantasy heading, fantasy as a subcategory within the fiction romance heading, as well as romance within the young adult fantasy heading. Across all three of these categories, there was significant growth between 2022 and 2023. So, with fantasy romance increasing by 57%, we also had, as I said, romance fantasy increasing by 235%. And then we also had YA fantasy romance increasing by 331%. So, we can absolutely confirm here that the headlines are correct and that romantasy is moving up. So, some top-performing titles for romance/fantasy in 2023 were the "Throne of Glass" books by Sarah J. Mass, "A Soul of Ash and Blood" by Jennifer Armentrout, and "A Touch of Darkness" by Scarlett St. Clair. Some top-performing titles for fantasy/romance in 2023 were the "A Cout of Thorns and Roses" books by Sarah J. Maas. We have another Sarah J. Maas book, the "House of Sky and Breath" from her "Crescent City" series, "The Serpent and the Wings of the Night" by Carissa Broadbent, the "Foxglove King" by Hannah Whitten, "The Night and Its Moon" by Piper CJ, and "A Broken Blade" by Melissa Blair.
  • 6. And finally, we have some top performing titles for YA fantasy/romance, and those were titles from the Rebecca Ross's "Letters of Enchantment" series, Holly Black's "The Stolen Heir" and "The Cruel Prince," Stephanie Garber's "Once Upon a Broken Heart" series, "Powerless" by Lauren Roberts, and a couple of titles from Mary E. Pearson's "Dance of Thieves" series. Kalpna: You didn't really think we could talk about book trends without mentioning TikTok, did you? Well, there, we've mentioned it, now we can move on having acknowledged that the platform has done wonders for genre fiction. While fiction sales might have dropped in 2023, we saw significant increase in the sales of Gothic fiction, which were up 200% over last year. In last year's presentation, our colleagues noted that Gothic fiction was also up in 2022, a trend that might have been related to the popularity of "Stranger Things" and other spooky things on Netflix. As Gothic fiction continues to trend this year, we've noticed that many of the genre's bestselling books in 2023 were backlist titles. Several editions of Shirley Jackson's "The Haunting of Hill House" were at the top of the list, in addition to classics like "Jane Eyre" with a super creepy cover. While book talk certainly has some influence in the romance and fantasy world, it looks like Netflix continues to inspire interest in the horror space. Last year's release of "The Fall of the House of Usher" had many people returning to Director Mike Flanagan's 2018 series based on "The Haunting of Hill House," thus renewing interest in those books in 2023. We're going to switch gears a little bit now and look at non-fiction. Last year's presentation included a discussion of the rise in popularity of zero-proof drinks and mocktails. So, we've decided to take a closer look at buying trends and the consumption of alcoholic versus non- alcoholic beverages over the last year. According to Stats Canada, alcohol sales and consumption had the largest increase in over a decade in 2020, though I can't imagine why. And this graph also shows there was a corresponding increase in the sales of books about alcoholic beverages in 2020, things like wine guides, cocktail recipes, and such. Sales of these books, though, decreased in 2021, stayed flat across 2022, but started to dip again in 2023. A steep rise in the price of alcohol at the end of 2022, as well as the new guidelines for low-risk alcohol use issued by the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction at the beginning of 2023 have definitely influenced buying behaviour throughout the year and appears to be encouraging people to explore the world of zero-proof drinks and mocktails, as there has been a 40% increase in the sale of books in the non-alcoholic beverages category. A "Toronto Star" article published just 10 days ago features a story about Zero Cocktail Bar, one of the country's only booze-free bars that's just opened, and discusses how the mocktail trend continues to gain momentum at bars and restaurants. In this article, the marketing director of Clearsips, which is an importer and distributor of zero-proof spirits, says, and I quote, "The trend was just starting in 2022, but now it's on fire. At the Restaurants Canada Trade Show in the past, we've had to approach buyers and really sell our products. Now
  • 7. buyers come to us saying they're mandated to offer non-alcohol options. For now, it does look like this expectation will extend to the drink section of bookstores as well." Before we continue looking at trends in adult non-fiction, let's talk a little bit about demographics. Just last week, a study published by Stats Can revealed that Millennials, so people currently aged 28 to 43, now outnumber boomers, those aged 60 to 78 in Canada. According to BookNet's own Canadian Book Consumer Survey, we know that book buyers aged 35 to 44, that is older millennials and younger Gen Xers, bought the most print books in 2022. So, what books were these folks buying? A huge increase we are seeing in women's health titles with sales up 185% over 2022 and books about menopause, which are up 32% over 2022 means there are a lot of perimenopausal book buyers out there. The data here clearly reflects this demographic shift. And we anticipate that the interest in these subjects and a demand for books written by and for those navigating this period in their lives will only increase. Another interesting thing to consider about this possibly perimenopausal print book-buying group of people is that many of them have children, and these children are or will be soon navigating their own changes. Gen X and Gen Y must prepare for some very serious talks with Gen Z, which is why we think the demand for books about changing times and changing bodies that are diverse and gender-neutral will be on the rise. The demand for books like these was actually made very clear back in 2018 when changes to the sex ed curriculum in Ontario had parents and caregivers scrambling for resources. This was, of course, the year Ontario reverted to the old curriculum and reinstated a version from 1998, literally setting sex education back a decade. Between this move and the move to online and at-home learning that would soon become the norm, it really became up to us to educate and inform the young people in our lives. This May, the world celebrates the 10th Annual Menstrual Hygiene Day initiated by the German non-profit, WASH United. The goal of this global day of action is to create a world where periods are a normal fact of life by 2030. Personally, I'd be thrilled just to see some new BISAC codes for puberty and menstruation put into place by then. The bestselling books pictured here can currently be found under subheadings such as Social Themes, Activism and Social Justice, Girls and Women, Adolescents and Coming of Age, Health and Daily Living, Maturing, Sexuality and Pregnancy, Self-esteem and Self-Reliance, and Personal Hygiene. We're gonna move on now to YA non-fiction and zoom out just a little. It's not only sex ed books that are in demand. 2023 saw an overall increase in young adult non-fiction. Sales were up 23% over 2022. The bestselling YA non-fiction title continues to be 2022's young adult adaptation of "Braiding Sweetgrass." Among the other bestsellers pictured here, you'll notice a few other adaptations. Viktor Frankl's "Man's Search for Meaning," as well as a young reader's edition of "How to Be an Anti-Racist." Many of these are among more recent titles in a growing collection of popular adult non- fiction titles being adapted for a younger audience such as roung reader's editions of Michelle Obama's "Becoming," Isabel Wilkerson's "Caste," Ta-Nehisi Coates' "The Beautiful
  • 8. Struggle," Ibram Kendi's "Stamped from the Beginning," and Sam Kean's "The Disappearing Spoon." We are almost nearing the end of our hour with you, and with that, we'd like to send you off with some good news. BookNet Canada sits on the North American Committee that compiles the BISAC subject headings list and aims to support and represent Canadian interests. In recent years, BookNet's representatives on the committee have advocated for changes that would see an overall decolonization of the terminology and structure of the BISAC codes list to represent evolving terminology and efforts at reconciliation. Working with a group of industry professionals who are similarly interested in decolonizing BISAC subject codes, and with a specific focus on examining existing codes in the adult fiction and non-fiction categories, they've worked to identify and address gaps in code assignment for indigenous subjects where sufficient titles are already circulating in the market. On the market level, the demand for books classified as indigenous continues to grow, and an increase in indigenous subjects' headings is a response to this growth. The 2023 BISAC release is a major step towards meeting the increasing need for more codes to accurately and meaningfully express indigeneity in these new codes that went live on SalesData earlier this month. The new codes can be found across all top-level subjects. For example, where there used to be 1 code for indigenous fiction, there are now 19 codes reflecting the many genres of indigenous storytelling. Juvenile fiction has gone from having 5 indigenous codes to 17, including those for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis, which would reflect Canadian content. Young adult fiction has gone from having 3 indigenous codes to 21. Juvenile non-fiction has gone from 3 to 18. Young adult non-fiction has also gone from 3 to 17. And before this update, there were 14 BISAC codes to express indigenity over 47 non-fiction subject headings. Today, after the update, there are just over 60. All of these codes are now live in SalesData, and we look forward to seeing these subjects become more populated with new and existing titles. As I mentioned at the beginning of this session, all of the data and reports presented here were pulled through the SalesData tool. No crystal balls were consulted, no cards were read, and as a SalesData user, you too can conduct this type of subject trend research, and we'd like to spend a few minutes to show you how. Lily: Right. So, one of the things that we really wanted to undertake in this presentation was we really wanted to emphasize that all of this data, if you're a SalesData user, is something that you can absolutely pull yourself. So, to look at subject trends specifically, all you need to do is run a market share report in SalesData. A market share report lets you calculate percentages of publisher, distributor, subject, and format sales in the all markets aggregate. So, that's across all retailers that are reporting to SalesData. So, unlike some of our other reports that examine title level data, a market share report takes more of a zoomed-out approach and lets you look at overall trends in the market. So, Kalpna is gonna show you how you can pull this data by inputting specific subjects. But first, I wanted to highlight that we do have this new feature called the Top 500 Subjects toggle. So,
  • 9. by new, I mean within the past year. So, if you turn this on, you'll be able to pull a report of the top 500 performing subjects and compare how they're doing over time. So, with this option, you don't really even need to have a sense of what it is you're looking for. You can just pull kind of a very large list and pick out what it is that interests you from there. Kalpna: Okay. So, let's give this thing a whirl. Let's say we're interested in cookbook trends. Before I became a data nerd here at BookNet, I must confess I was an indie bookseller. And trying to curate a high-performing cookbook session was always a challenge. Cookbooks are expensive and they take up a lot of space. I needed a strategy. In the last year or two, salad books were all the rage. But I'm also hearing that the rising food costs means that sales of fresh fruit and vegetables and other perishable goods are dwindling. Maybe the salad trend will turn into a zero-waste cooking trend? Who knows? The bread books that were so popular at the start of the pandemic, starting to get a little bit dusty, but some recent heavy hitters in the dessert world makes me think I should not start skimping on my baking section. And lastly, do people even still care about charcuterie boards? We can run the market share report that Lily just described to get some answers. So, this is gonna be a whirlwind tutorial, very basic start about how to set up a market share report in SalesData. Right now, I'm in my SalesData account, and going over to the Market Share tab to generate my report, I will select the Subject tab. But because I'm interested in specific subjects, I'm not going to use the Top 500 Subjects toggle that Lily just showed to us. I will manually select the subjects that I want to look at. Here, I've selected the subjects that best match the sections of the store that I was interested in. Appetizers to capture those charcuterie boards, desserts, and salads. For the reporting period, I've chosen to look at these subjects year over year, starting with 2023, and that will let me view results going back as far as 2014. And here, we've got some results. At a glance, I can see that dessert books dipped in 2021 probably because everyone was busy baking bread. The sales started to increase in 2022 and then exploded in 2023 with an increase of 292%. While salad books steadily increased from 2020 to 2022, sales plummeted in 2023, going down by 51%. And appetizers have been steadily decreasing with sales down 25% over 2022, which suggests that maybe people are over boards. All right. That's it. Now it's over to you. We're going to turn to questions that have come in from the attendees. And if you have not sent in your question yet, please feel free to put them in the Q&A panel. Lily, you ready? Lily: Yeah. Kalpna: All right. Let's have a look at some of these questions. Okay. All right. Here's a question, you mentioned that BookNet has worked to add more codes relating to indigenous subjects for the 2023 BISAC list, and that we need more codes for books on period and puberty. How can people request new codes to BISAC and what is that process like? I believe the best way to go about this is sending us an email. You can email standards@booknetcanada.ca. As I mentioned, BookNet does represent Canada on this North
  • 10. American Committee and can make requests on the market's behalf. Please get in touch with our standards team and you can use that email and we'll be in touch. Here's a question maybe for Lily. Did all of this data come from SalesData? Can non- BookNet users get all of this information? Lily: All of this is from SalesData. If you wanna pull the reports yourself, then yes, you do have to have a SalesData account with us. If you are interested in having an account, you can reach out to us at salesdata@booknetcanada.ca. We also provide some research materials throughout the year as well, which you do need a SalesData account to have access to. But we also have our Booknet Canada blog, which is available to anyone. Did I miss anything, Kalpna? Kalpna: Sounds good to me. Please note that we could also always get back to anyone if we don't have full enough answers for you just off the cuff now. So, please do put in your questions, and if we can't answer them right away, we will definitely follow up and get back to you. Another question, I think we can answer this pretty easily. Is it possible to run all of the reports you did for the subjects year over year while also filtering for Canadian contributors? Lily: Yes. You can do that. There are various filter options that we have available on the market share report and one of them is indeed a Canadian contributor filter. So, if you turn that toggle on, it'll return anything that has a contributor in its metadata that designates it as Canadian, whether it's the author, whether the illustrator, the editor, they'll show up in there. Kalpna: This is a good one. Any Excel tips for us? I wish SalesData could make my graphs for me. Tell me about it. I think my only tip would be save your report and download it in Excel and open it in Sheets. That's not really an answer, but Sheets is so much more accessible, I find. It's a lot easier to use and you can do pretty much the same stuff. A lot of the reports and analysis actually that we did here, we started off with those market share reports, the one that I quickly showed you, downloaded them into Excel. I would then open them in Sheets to calculate percentage increases and decreases. And they're also a little bit easier to share with colleagues as well, because everyone can access those documents. So, my trick about Excel is don't use Excel. Lily: Yeah, we did a lot of math within Excel for this presentation. And I think we also did a presentation a few years ago with some tips on how to use SalesData in Excel kind of in tandem. So, that would definitely be available on the blog for you to find. Kalpna: Another question that just came through, do you have any data on children's picture books? A lot of the subjects we mentioned, I realize, do impact picture books, but picture books aren't a subject, so it's not so easy to get data specific to picture books using SalesData. Scrolling through to make sure we didn't miss anyone. Any tips and tricks to consider when we're trying to make our own versions of these reports in SalesData? In terms of market share... Actually, Lily, go for it. Lily: I always say just my top tip anytime when you're using any report with SalesData is just like we have little things that you can do to just save time. So, if these are reports that
  • 11. you think you would wanna like look back on repeatedly, like say you wanna remind yourself that you wanna see how did comics and graphic novels do in Q2 of 2024, you can set a report to be emailed to you directly so that you'll have the kind of updated information for that BISAC code as it's coming in and we're releasing it into SalesData. So, anything that saves you time in your busy day is really my top tip. Kalpna: That's great. I can say honestly, while we were running so many different reports for this session and trying to go back and revisit, it was really useful to have everything already set up so that we weren't having to input all that different criteria over and over again. So, save and distribute and email, definitely. I think we still have time for a couple more. Another question here is, are all the new indigenous BISAC codes live now or still to come? Lily: They're live. We're very excited to say they're live as of a couple of weeks ago, I think, at this point. So, yes, they're all there for you to start looking at. I know some of them, you might not see titles that have...you know, you'll not see as many titles with the subject codes because we might be waiting for new titles to come in with those subject codes applied. But yes, they are live on SalesData for you to search with. Kalpna: And how often do we refresh our BISAC codes? Lily: Once a year. So, we try to do it as early in the year as possible. So, the new codes come through at the end of the previous year. So, right now, we have the 2023 codes that came through in December, I believe, and we pushed them up in February of this year. Kalpna: I think we have made our way mostly through this list. This might be a good one to end on. We'll have to think a little bit about it. But were any of these trends surprising to you? Were there any trends you had expected to see that didn't show up in the book sales? Lily: I think it's something really shocking. Kalpna: I know. I'm trying to. I was quite pleasantly surprised with the increase in sales on the women's health titles. A topic we did not discuss in this presentation also were memoir and biography, which I feel like in the last year with such huge titles like Britney Spears and Barbra Streisand and there were so many others, I think I expected to see a bit more of a shift or an increase there and I don't think there was anything that notable though. That section is always or that subject is always very popular anyway. Lily: Yeah. I guess I don't know if I was expecting comics and graphic novels to go down as much as it did. Kalpna: That was a shock. Yes. Lily: Yeah. I think one thing that's interesting maybe about that one is...so we also have library data and there's a similar report that you can pull with that that specifically just looks at library circulation. And while it went down in SalesData, it actually went up for library data and the same thing with travel actually. So, it's interesting to see where things went down in sales but are kind of going up in library.
  • 12. Kalpna: A question that's just coming in regarding what you just mentioned, the name of that report in library data. Lily: Is the trend analysis report. So, you can look at subject trends and language trends in that library report. Kalpna: All right. Making our way through this dock, it looks like we've covered a lot of things, most things. If there are any other questions that come to you when we sign off, please do feel free to get in touch. Actually, Lily, do you wanna share that last slide that has our email address? I'll throw that up, but in any event, it is... Lily: I can. There. Kalpna: There we go. Salesdata@booknetcanada.ca. Any questions sent to that email will come directly to Lily and I and a ton of other people. So, you will get answers hopefully fairly quickly. And that about wraps it up for us. Thank you so much for joining us. Before we go, we'd love it if you could provide feedback on this session. We'll drop a link to the survey in the chat. Please take a couple of minutes to fill it out. We'll also be emailing you a link to a recording of this session as soon as it's available. So, don't worry if you didn't take notes. It'll all be there for you. To our attendees, we invite you to join our upcoming session, "Book Industry State of the Nation 2024." That's scheduled for April 2nd. You can find information about all upcoming events and recordings of previous sessions on our website, bnctechforum.ca. Lastly, we'd like to thank the Department of Canadian Heritage for their support through the Canada Book Fund, and thank you to all of you for attending.