Mother's Day book trends

Mother's Day is approaching fast — this year it's on May 13th — and since a good book is, as always, a popular gift, we decided to take a look at various book-related trends surrounding the holiday.

To start, we looked at a quick snapshot of the five top-selling books the week leading up to Mother's Day from the past five years (a lighter version of our usual perennial studies) to see if we could spot any patterns. Publishers tend to release big "chick lit" titles in the front half of the year, as they are a popular gift for moms and for summer reading lists. This includes authors like Danielle Steel, Jodi Picoult, Sophie Kinsella, Nora Roberts, and Nicholas Sparks. But are these the titles selling well leading up to Mother's Day?

Top 5 titles the week of Mother's Day

2017

  1. Into the Water by Paula Hawkins
  2. Jack Reacher: Night School by Lee Child
  3. The Handmaid's Tale (TV tie-in edition) by Margaret Atwood
  4. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
  5. The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

2016

  1. The Nest by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney
  2. The Trials of Apollo: The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan
  3. Undercover by Danielle Steele
  4. The Crown by Kiera Cass
  5. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

2015

  1. Jack Reacher: Personal by Lee Child
  2. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
  3. My Secret Sister by Helen Edwards and Jenny Lee Smith
  4. 14th Deadly Sin by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
  5. Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult

2014

  1. Finding Me by Michelle Knight and Michelle Buford
  2. Chestnut Street by Maeve Binchy
  3. The Longest Ride by Nicholas Sparks
  4. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
  5. Unlucky 13 by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro

2013

  1. Guilty Wives by James Patterson and David Ellis
  2. Dead Ever After by Charlaine Harris
  3. The Spark: A mother's story of nurturing genius by Kristine Barnett
  4. Odd Apocalypse by Dean Koontz
  5. Wedding Night by Sophie Kinsella

While there are a few "chick lit" books in these lists, there are also some thrillers and even YA (as well as the always popular James Patterson). Books in the "female thriller" category, like Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, are overwhelmingly read by women, which is likely the reason Paula Hawkin's second novel was published in the weeks leading up to Mother's Day 2017 and why thrillers in general are often in the top five during the second week of May.

But how many of these are possible Mother's Day gifts and how many are just popular bestsellers as we gear up for summer reading lists? To dig a bit deeper, we compared the top five books the week leading up to Mother's Day against the week following, again for the last five years, to see if there are any books or patterns that stand out.

We discovered that books by male authors are more popular the week following Mother's Day. This includes books by Lee Child, Clive Cussler, and Dan Brown. Obviously these books are widely read by both genders (with more than half of Lee Child's readership made up of women), but, statistically, thrillers by female authors are more popular with average reader (who happens to be female) than thrillers written by male authors, which is why several male writers use a female pseudonym for their thriller titles.

In the week leading up to Mother's Day from 2013 to 2017, 64% of the top five books have been female-authored, while only 28% have been male-authored. However, of the top five books the week immediately after Mother's Day, 44% have been male-authored and 44% have been female-authored. The rest of the titles have either been have both male and female contributors or don't have a specific author's name attached (e.g., National Geographic Kids Almanac).

Keywords

Another area of interest is, you guessed it, the metadata of Mother's Day books. We decided to take a look at how many times "mother's day" was used as a keyword for titles in BiblioShare. (We also included "gift for mom" in our search, so results include instances where one of these two keywords were used, as well as overlap where a title used both, such as "mother's day gift.")

"Mother's day" (or the above permutations) appeared as a keyword 1,541 times on a total of 1,100 EANs, under a total of 250 BISACs. The top 25 BISACs used on these EANs include:

  1. JUVENILE FICTION / Family / Parents (56 EANs)
  2. FAMILY & RELATIONSHIPS / Parenting / Motherhood (40 EANs)
  3. FICTION / Literary (37 EANs)
  4. FICTION / Women (36 EANs)
  5. BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / Personal Memoirs (30 EANs)
  6. FICTION / General (25 EANs)
  7. FICTION / Family Life / General (20 EANs)
  8. NON-CLASSIFIABLE (18 EANs)
  9. FAMILY & Relationships / Parenting / General (17 EANs)
  10. HEALTH & FITNESS / Beauty & Grooming (14 EANs)
  11. FICTION / Historical / General (14 EANs)
  12. COOKING / Regional & Ethnic / Italian (14 EANs)
  13. GAMES & ACTIVITIES / Colouring Books (14 EANs)
  14. COOKING / Courses & Dishes / General (13 EANs)
  15. BODY, MIND & SPIRIT / Inspiration & Personal Growth (13 EANs)
  16. SELF-HELP / Personal Growth / Happiness (13 EANs)
  17. COOKING / Methods / Baking (13 EANs)
  18. JUVENILE FICTION / Animals / Birds (13 EANs)
  19. COOKING / Entertaining (12 EANs)
  20. COOKING / Methods / Quick & Easy (12 EANs)
  21. BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / Women (12 EANs)
  22. JUVENILE FICTION / Family / General (11 EANs)
  23. JUVENILE FICTION / Family / New Baby (10 EANs)
  24. FAMILY & RELATIONSHIPS / Parenting / Grandparenting (10 EANs)
  25. BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / Literary Figures (9 EANs)

Juvenile Fiction is the most popular overall category, with 38 different subcategories using the "mother's day" keyword, followed closely by Cooking, with 37 different subcategories. Other popular categories are Fiction, Biography & Autobiography, Family & Relationships, Crafts & Hobbies, and Humor.

A total of 100 publishers are using "mother's day" as a keyword, and of the "mother's day" titles we found, only 26 were Canadian-authored.