Waterstones buyers have heralded 2021 as a "bumper year" for publishing and are looking forward a "healthy 2022".
The retailer said that despite "a rocky year" with shutdowns and restrictions, there had been a number of standout titles from the likes of Kazuo Ishiguro and Sally Rooney, with 2022 off to a strong start with new releases from Hanya Yanagihara, Douglas Stuart and Richard Osman. The rise of the social media platform TikTok also provides "an incredible realm of discovery for readers and recommends" with eagerly awaited books such as Tahereh Mafi’s This Woven Kingdom (Electric Monkey) and Dean Atta’s Only on the Weekends (Hodder Children's Books) coming out next year.
Bea Carvalho, head of fiction, said: "Ishiguro returned with his first new novel since winning the Nobel Prize; Sally Rooney’s dazzling third novel arrived; and authors including Caleb Azumah Nelson, Jennifer Saint, Janice Hallett, and Raven Leilani established themselves as bright stars of the future. Publishers continued to push boundaries in design and production values, a fact we have celebrated through our 2021 Book of the Year, The Lyrics (Allen Lane)."
Florentyna Martin, head of children's, added: "This has been a bumper year for Children’s books, topped off by the Waterstones Children’s Gift of the Year, awarded to Julia and the Shark by Kiran Millwood Hargrave and Tom de Freston (Orion Children's Books), which catapulted the title into our top sellers, one of our most successful books of the year."
Looking ahead to 2022 Carvalho said the arrival of Hanya Yanagihara’s third novel, To Paradise (Picador), "starts the year with a bang. Few novels are as universally beloved in the bookselling community as A Little Life (Picador) and it has seen enormous uplift over the last year due to prominence on TikTok: there is a huge amount of excitement surrounding this new release which is just as heartbreakingly brilliant. Douglas Stuart’s return with Young Mungo (Picador) is another stand-out, an absolutely stunning follow up to his Booker-winning debut. We also look forward to new titles from Richard Osman, Anne Tyler, Ali Smith, Monica Ali, Marian Keyes, and Candice Carty-Williams to name but a few highlights, as well as second novels from 2021 debut authors such as Janice Hallett’s The Twyford Code (Viper) and Jennifer Saint’s Elektra (Wildfire).
"There is an exciting roster of new voices to champion, too. Susan Stokes-Chapman’s Pandora (Harvill Secker) is already proving very popular with booksellers and is generating an impressive early buzz: it is set to be a huge success. We have also fallen in love with Bonnie Garmus’ Lessons in Chemistry (Doubleday), Jo Browning Wroe’s A Terrible Kindness (Faber), and Nikki May’s Wahala (Doubleday). We can’t wait to introduce these brilliant new authors, and many others, to our customers."
On the children's side Martin said "while the new year is a quiet time for some, the world of Children’s Books is always bursting with something exciting, so we’ll celebrate early with shortlists for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize 2022 — now in its 18th year — and gear up for World Book Day’s 25th anniversary".
She added: "Big series publications are hot on the agenda in 2022. Those awaiting the final instalment from Derek Landy’s Skulduggery universe only have a short while left to wait, with Until the End (HarperCollins Children's Books) finishing up the epic second series cycle in March. And while one series ends, another begins with a bang: Skandar and the Unicorn Thief by A F Steadman is building hype like no other, a fantastic commercial adventure of blood-thirsty unicorns that holds flavours of How to Train Your Dragon (Hodder Children's Books) and 'Pokémon'. Bought at auction for seven-figures by Simon & Schuster Children’s, and with film rights snapped up by Sony Pictures for another seven figures – if ever there was one to watch, this is it. Marcus Rashford also begins his first fiction series for children, with Alex Falase-Koya and Marta Kissi, in The Breakfast Club Adventures (Macmillan Children's Books), inspired by Rashford’s own experiences growing up."
Other new titles include Waterstones Children’s Book Prize 2021 winner Elle McNicoll's first magical-set novel Like a Charm (Knights Of) and Mole’s Spectacles from Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler (Macmillan Children's Books) for younger readers.
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