What to buy mom: Book trends for Mother's Day

As the snow melts and flowers start to bloom, it's time to turn our attention to the quickly approaching Mother’s Day. Mother’s Day gifts often make us think of jewelry, wine, spa visits and, the best gift of all, books! What subjects and titles sell the most for Mother's Day? We crunched the numbers in order to tell you.

Dark subject matter top sellers for Mother's Day

Book trends for Mother's Day: Dark subject matter are top sellers according to @BookNet_Canada.

To find out which genres sold the most print books around Mother's Day, we used BNC SalesData (which tracks print sales in the Canadian English-language trade book market) to compare the market share of the six weeks up to and including Mother's Day with the six weeks after Mother's Day for all Fiction and Non-Fiction subjects to see where there was notable growth in unit sales. Since a big, high-selling title in one year can have an outsized impact on the performance of a category, we looked at the genres for the last two years to gauge consistent performance. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Fiction saw the largest increases, though the surprise might be in the dark genres that top the list. 

Fiction genres with the largest market share increases

Subject 2017 percent change 2018 percent change
Crime 83% 118%
Psychological 100% 61%
Noir 292% 50%
Political 54% 49%
Historical 37% 41%

Non-Fiction subjects experienced minimal growth, when comparing the six-week period up to and including Mother's Day to the six weeks after Mother's Day, with notable increases in the Bibles and Poetry categories. We should note that growth in the Bibles category in 2018 isn't related to Easter, as the holiday fell before the time span we looked at. However, Easter did fall within the six-week time span for 2017, which may account for some of the growth in percent change.

Non-Fiction genres with the largest market share increases

Subject 2017 percent change 2018 percent change
Bibles 14% 19%
Biography & Autobiography 8% 8%
Medical 6% 10%
Political 54% 49%
Religion 6% 10%
Poetry 4% 19%

Top 10 Fiction perennial sellers for Mother's Day

We found 25 Fiction titles that have consistently sold well during the six-week period leading up to Mother's Day from 2016 through 2018. Each title experienced continuous sales year-round with most experiencing a sales peak in late-December. 

It's hard to attribute sales for these titles in the weeks leading up to Mother's Day entirely to the holiday, though perhaps people are buying the classics or general bestsellers for their moms that everyone else is also enjoying year-round.

Below are the top 10 Fiction perennial sellers. Please note, titles with a "Classics" BISAC code were removed from the top 10 list (i.e., Fahrenheit 451, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Animal Farm). 

  1. Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese 🇨🇦 (Douglas and McIntyre, 9781553654025)

  2. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (HarperCollins Publishers, 9780062315007)

  3. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (Crown/Archetype, 9780307887443)

  4. 1984 by George Orwell (Penguin Books, 9780141036144)

  5. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss (DAW, 9780756404741)

  6. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon (Doubleday Canada, 9780770428792)

  7. My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante, translated by Ann Goldstein (Europa Editions, 9781609450786)

  8. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini (Doubleday Canada, 9780385660075)

  9. The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty (Penguin Publishing Group, 9780425267721)

  10. The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss (DAW, 9780756407919)

Top 10 perennial Juvenile sellers for Mother's Day

When it comes to Juvenile books, each of the following perennial sellers experienced continuous sales year-round, although most peaked during December. (Oh, the Places You'll Go! by Dr. Seuss peaks in the last week of June for graduation season.) After sorting by 2018 sales, we found only one book in the top 10 that is directly related to mothers: Why I Love My Mommy by Daniel Howarth. This 2010 board book experienced a sales increase of 60% between April 15, 2018 and May 13, 2018. 

  1. Oh, the Places You'll Go! by Dr. Seuss (Random House Children's Books, 9780679805274)

  2. Why I Love My Mommy by Daniel Howarth (HarperCollins Publishers Limited, 9780007877621)

  3. Wonder by R. J. Palacio (Random House Children's Books, 9780375869020)

  4. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle (Penguin Young Readers Group, 9780399226908)

  5. Moo, Baa, La La La! by Sandra Boynton (Little Simon, 9780671449018)

  6. The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch 🇨🇦 and Michael Martchenko (Annick Press, 9780920236161)

  7. The Going to Bed Book by Sandra Boynton (Little Simon, 9780671449025)

  8. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J. K. Rowling (Bloomsbury Publishing USA, 9781408855652)

  9. Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle and illustrated by Jill McElmurry (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, 9780544568037)

  10. On the Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman (Feiwel & Friends, 9780312601553)

Books as gifts for Mother's Day

The small number of perennial bestsellers peaking around Mother's Day corresponds with the responses from our quarterly consumer surveys. In our surveying, we ask book buyers if they purchase books as gifts; in 2018, 18% of book buyers purchased a book as a gift, but very few of these gift buyers, only 1%, did so for Mother's Day (down from 3% in 2017). 

But to that we say: Be a contrarian! if you're wondering what gift to get the mothers in your life, consider a book.