2020 YA Bestsellers: Familiar Franchises, Young Readers’ Editions, and More

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Last week, we ran our compilation of 2020 children’s bestsellers, and this week we're following up with our 2020 Facts and Figures roundup of young adult bestsellers, which include a wide variety of titles dominated by mega-selling franchises and their sequels and prequels, as well as time-tested classics for teens. Our lists are based on print unit sales at outlets that report to NPD Bookscan, which tracks approximately 85% of the print market. Here we compile the books that sold more than 100,000 copies in three categories: Hardcover Frontlist, Hardcover Backlist, and Paperback Backlist. (No paperback frontlist YA novels met these sales criteria.)

Last year’s overall top-selling YA book was Midnight Sun by Stephenie Meyer, with more than 1 million copies sold in hardcover. The novel retells Meyer’s franchise-launching book, Twilight, from Edward Cullen’s point of view. Her Twilight Saga, comprised of four core novels and three companion volumes, has sold nearly 160 million copies worldwide since its debut in 2005.

In addition to Midnight Sun, the hardcover frontlist category features almost equally strong sales by Suzanne Collins’s Hunger Games prequel The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes and another new fantasy novel by a high-profile author, Chain of Gold by Cassandra Clare. On the nonfiction front, Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds, the young readers’ adaptation of Ibram X. Kendi’s National Book Award-winning title, has a strong showing, revealing the demand for books grappling with urgent national issues for a young audience.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas holds the top slot for hardcover backlist. The Black Lives Matter-inspired novel has been a steady seller since its debut in 2017 and subsequent film adaptation in 2018; and this past January, Thomas released a prequel, Concrete Rose. Karen M. McManus’s breakout debut One of Us Is Lying, a teen thriller, also ranks high on the list. (Her 2020 sequel, One of Us Is Next, sold more than 120,000 copies in hardcover frontlist.)

Finally, paperback backlist is topped by two classic novels: The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton and The Giver by Lois Lowry. Rounding out the list are contemporary titles by Suzanne Collins, E. Lockhart, Nic Stone, and Markus Zusak, among others.

Hardcover Frontlist

500,000+

1. Midnight Sun. Stephenie Meyer. Little, Brown (1,311,147)

2. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. Suzanne Collins. Scholastic Press (1,235,099)

200,000+

3. Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You: A Remix of the National Book Award-Winning Stamped from the Beginning. Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi. Little, Brown (317,011)

100,000+

4. Chain of Gold. Cassandra Clare. S&S/McElderry (161,591)

5. Live: Remain Alive, Be Alive at a Specified Time, Have an Exciting or Fulfilling Life. Sadie Robertson Huff. Thomas Nelson (128,609)

6. One of Us Is Next. Karen M. McManus. Delacorte (122,696)

Hardcover Backlist

200,000+

1. The Hate U Give. Angie Thomas. HarperTeen/Balzer + Bray (224,392)

100,000+

2. One of Us Is Lying. Karen M. McManus. Delacorte (189,854)

Paperback Backlist

200,000+

1. The Outsiders. S. E. Hinton. Speak (308,996)

2. The Giver. Lois Lowry. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (247,736)

100,000+

3. The Silver Eyes (Five Nights at Freddy’s #1). Scott Cawthon. Scholastic (171,680)

4. The Hunger Games. Suzanne Collins. Scholastic Press (160,072)

5. We Were Liars. E. Lockhart. Ember (156,695)

6. The Book Thief. Markus Zusak. Knopf (137,861)

7. Into the Pit (Five Nights at Freddy’s: Fazbear Frights #1). Scholastic (137,806)

8. Dear Martin. Nic Stone. Ember (124,303)

9. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. John Boyne. Ember (115,898)

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