Houseplant culture has grown in popularity over the last few years, possibly related to the current climate emergency, the high cost of living and parenting children, a desire for more greenery and less concrete, or all the plant Instagram accounts (#plants has more than 26 million posts on Instagram at the time of writing). Owning trendy plants is its own phenomenon (trendiest plants, impossible-to-kill plants) and it even has its own backlash (get non-trendy plants).
Whether you care for a trendy or non-trendy indoor plant in your home or workspace, knowing how to keep plants alive is the most important thing to know as a plant parent. Luckily, books can help! We turned to BNC SalesData to discover whether online houseplant culture has translated to higher sales for print books about indoor plants in the Canadian English-language trade book market.
Online popularity of plants and indoor plants
But first, what are the online search trends in Canada? Using the default search engine that tracks such things, Google searches in Canada for "plant*" (the asterisk is a placeholder for possible variants, like "s" or "ing") shows an overall upward trend. Every year, searches peak during the Victoria Day long weekend in the second-last week of May, and then slowly decline until the end of August, continuing for a bit into October until finally dropping off for the winter. (The additional peak in 2011 is in March, which may have been related to the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan.)
Google searches in Canada for "plant*" – January 2008 to July 2019 (Google Trends)
When we look at Google searches in Canada for "indoor plant*" (again, the asterisk is a placeholder for possible variants), we see a steady upward trend over the last few years. There is a significant jump in early 2017, but no seasonal trends, which makes sense given the year-round nature of indoor plant parenting.
Google searches in Canada for "indoor plant*" – January 2008 to July 2019 (Google Trends)
Sales in Canada for print books on gardening and houseplants
Is the same true for book sales about indoor plants in Canada? Will there be a correlated upward trend? And, if so, will it have few to no peaks like the Google searches for "indoor plant*" or a distinct seasonal cycle like the Google searches for "plant*"? It's time to ask SalesData about print sales in the Canadian English-language trade book market for books categorized under the Non-Fiction / Gardening BISAC code.
First, we looked at print sales in the overall Gardening category. Has overall interest (i.e., volume sold) in gardening books increased over the years? We graphed the results since 2008, by year.
Print unit sales – January 2008 to July 2019: Gardening (BNC SalesData)
Looking at the results, we see that sales for books categorized as Non-Fiction / Gardening have been steadily decreasing, with upticks in 2016 and 2018. (Sales for 2019 are from January until July.)
In the graph below, we see the same downward trend in the Gardening / General category, with the same uptick in 2016 and a smoother flat trend in the last five years. With the volume of sales already accrued in the first seven months of this year (January through July), there is potential for an increase in the coming months of 2019.
Print unit sales – January 2008 to July 2019: Gardening / General (BNC SalesData)
And now the big reveal: Are Canadians buying more print books about indoor plants, i.e., books categorized under the Gardening / House Plants & Indoor BISAC code?
From the results graphed below, we see that sales have been rising steadily since 2008. There was a peak in 2012, followed by a gradual increase every year until sales rose significantly between 2017 and 2018. Sales in 2019 so far, from January to July, have increased at a higher rate than in previous years.
Print unit sales – January 2008 to July 2019: Gardening / House Plants & Indoor (BNC SalesData)
Bestselling print books on houseplants
What were the bestselling print books from January 2018 to July 2019 that caused these increases? We ran a Bestseller Report in SalesData for the Non-Fiction / Gardening / House Plants & Indoor (GAR010000) BISAC subject code for this time period to find out.
Top-selling titles in the Gardening / House Plants & Indoor sub-genre – January 2018 to July 2019 (BNC SalesData)
Houseplants by Lisa Eldred Steinkopf (9781591866909)
Urban Botanics by Emma Sibley and Maaike Koster (9781781316535)
Houseplants for a Healthy Home by Jon VanZile (9781507207291)
Living with Plants by Sophie Lee (9781784880965)
The Inspired Houseplant by Jen Stearns (9781632171771)
These bestsellers are guidebooks that mostly cater to all types of houseplants, with the exception of Terrariums.
We were also curious about the books that have been consistent bestsellers since the beginning of 2008, to get an idea of the perennial titles over the years. To find them, we pulled the bestselling books from January 2008 to July 2019 from SalesData for the Non-Fiction / Gardening / House Plants & Indoor (GAR010000) BISAC subject code.
Top-selling titles in the Gardening / House Plants & Indoor sub-genre – January 2008 to July 2019 (BNC SalesData)
Indoor Plants for Canada by Laura Peters 🇨🇦 (9781551053899)
How Not to Kill Your Houseplant by Veronica Peerless (9781465463302)
The House Plant Expert by D. G. Hessayon (9780903505352)
Indoor Kitchen Gardening by Elizabeth Millard (9781591865933)
New Plant Parent by Darryl Cheng (9781419732393)
The Indoor Plant Bible by Dorte Nissen (9780764157691)
Succulents by Cassidy Tuttle (9781615648429)
The Complete Houseplant Survival Manual by Barbara Pleasant (9781580175692)
The Unexpected Houseplant by Tovah Martin (9781604692433)
Houseplants by Lisa Eldred Steinkopf (9781591866909)
Once again, the majority of houseplant bestsellers are guidebooks containing a broad overview of all types of houseplants, with the exception of Succulents.
And that's the dirt on houseplants! While we didn't include non-Gardening BISAC subject codes, indoor plant-related books also show up in other subjects like House & Home / Decorating & Furnishings and Architecture / Interior Design.
Are you a publisher, retailer, or librarian who wants to see more data like this? Check out SalesData, the sales tracking service for the Canadian English-language trade book market. If you’re already a subscriber, and want to see how other categories did during certain time periods (like we did for the Gardening category) check out the Market Share Report. If you want to see the top-selling titles for a specific author or in a certain category (like we did for House Plants & Indoor), see how to run a Bestseller Report. If you still have questions, or want SalesData training, contact us!