Summer Readers Are A Key Market For Booksellers (And Self-Published Authors)

self-published authors

Before millions of travelers grab their suntan lotion and dust off their flip flops, self-published authors have time to get their books in front of this massive book buying audience. It’s truly the best time for you to self publish your book, and BookBaby is here to help you make it happen!

What’s the biggest selling season for books? Fair warning: It’s probably not what you’re thinking.

Most people will say: Christmas. Sure, the holiday season is important for every retailer, including book merchants. But they would be wrong.

The answer isn’t snowflakes and Santa. It’s sand and surf.

The summertime reading season is the top selling season for books – over $3.4 billion in sales over the long hot summer according to industry sources. That compares with about $2.9 billion spent for holiday gift giving.

An article in Publishers Weekly reported on the yearly book buying boom, especially with printed books. Chain and indie brick-and-mortar stores reported brisk business during the summer months – and that includes bookstores at airports and train stations. A printed book buying revival last summer fueled huge sales volumes during the busy summer travel season, as more passengers opt for physical books.

“Book sales are strong and growing,” said Sara Hinckley, quoted in the Publishers Weekly article. She’s the VP of book purchasing and promotions at Hudson Group, which has 445 stores that carry books, including 50 bookstores in the U.S. Tanesha Taylor-Nurse, buyer for books at 19 bookstores in the U.S., noted that while eBooks are still very popular for vacationers, printed books remain a strong format for this reader profile. “The demand for physical books is back,” she said. “People continue to buy at the airport and sales have rallied.”

The summer reading season is a time for bookstores to experiment with new and different ways to appeal to the vacation reader. PW’s article reported how Ron Rice, book manager at Faber, Coe & Gregg (which has 44 stores that carry books), likes to experiment with regional titles and strong mid-list books. “I try to throw a few curve balls in there to show we’re a literary bookstore,” he said. “I’ll stack up Tin House or Melville House.”

Books continue to be big business for retailers in busy airports. Books Inc. operates three Compass Rose bookstores at the San Francisco airport. “We have always prided ourselves on being a bookstore at the airport rather than an airport bookstore,” said president Michael Tucker. “We realized early on that the reason people weren’t buying Stegner at the airport was because it wasn’t there.” Compass Rose benefits from having 12 million passengers pass through its terminals each year.

What formats of books are selling? Retailers report a similar breakdown in sales at its stores: 55% trade paper, 25% hardcover, and 20% mass market.

What kinds of books are popular for summer reading? Goodreads conducted a poll in July 2015 asking what genre is preferred by its members. 59% of them voted for “Books that transported them to a different world.” The other leading vote getters were:

“Books that brought out their inner Sherlock” – 11%

“Books that steam up your cabana” – 10%

“Books that made the all time top 10 list” – 9%

“Books that teach you something” – 8%

“Books you were supposed to read in high school” – 3%

So before millions of travelers look for that SPF800 sun lotion and dust off the flip flops, authors have time to get their books in front of this massive book reading – and buying – audience. It’s truly the best time for you to self publish your books, and BookBaby is here to help you make it happen.

Send us your finished, edited manuscript in the next couple of weeks. Or give us a call at 877-961-6878. BookBaby can help you navigate the entire process of self-publishing, including:

  • Cover design. BookBaby offers fast, affordable and – most importantly – eye-catching book cover design to bring in those beach readers.
  • Printed books, eBooks, or both. When you buy our complete Self Publishing Package including design and distribution, you’ll get a free eBook conversion and distribution package.
  • Distribution. Choose BookBaby’s industry-leading Print On Demand program and get your printed books into every major online retail store including Amazon, Barnes & Noble and others, PLUS inclusion in wholesale bookstore catalogs from Baker & Taylor and Ingram.

In a few short months, millions of people will be relaxing poolside, in a mountain cabin, or a hot sandy beach. Most of them will be enjoying these lazy days of summer with a paperback or eReader close at hand. They’ll be searching bookstores – digital and brick-and-mortar – for that great summer read.

It could be your book! These could be YOUR readers if you call BookBaby today!

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Steven Spatz
Steven Spatz is a writer, marketer, and the President of BookBaby, the nation’s leading self publishing services company. Spatz’s professional writing career began at age 13, paid by the word to bang out little league baseball game stories on an ancient manual typewriter for southern Oregon weekly newspapers. His journalism career continued after graduation from the University of Oregon at several daily newspapers in Oregon. When his family took over a direct marketing food business, Spatz redirected his writing and design skills into producing catalogs. The Pinnacle Orchards catalog was named "Best Food Catalog," received dozens of other national awards, and the business grew into one of the nation’s largest gourmet fruit gift businesses. After the company was sold, Spatz continued his direct marketing career with Fortune 500 companies including Mattel and Hasbro. He joined AVL Digital in 2004 to lead the direct-to-consumer marketing teams for music industry-leading brands Disc Makers, Oasis, and CD Baby. After serving as Chief Marketing Officer, Spatz was tapped to lead the company’s new publishing division in late 2014. In 2019, the AVL Digital Management team purchased the New Jersey brands, including BookBaby. The company is headquartered in Pennsauken, NJ (just outside Philadelphia, PA) and meets the printed book and eBook needs of thousands of self-publishing authors around the globe. Spatz lives in Glenside, PA with his two children, a demented cat, and some well-used bicycles. Steven loves to hear from authors, editors, and publishers in the BookBaby community with tales of publishing trials and triumphs. To tell him your story, write to



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