Ingram Blog

Looking Ahead: Trends in Adult Publishing

By Ann Lehue, Manager, Collection Development Programs, MSIS

Ingram’s Collection Development librarians meet with publishers on a regular basis and frequently discuss what’s new and what’s changing in the publishing world. Everything—from the usual waxing and waning of genres, to experiments with formats, to a surge in the awareness of social issues, to the way social media impacts who gets published—factors into this season’s crop of new books.

Some of the most notable upcoming publishing trends for Adult Fiction and Nonfiction include:

  • Characters are becoming more diverse (e.g., race, LGBTQ, different abilities) than ever as authors and publishers embrace a wider audience. Additionally, mentally ill and/or unreliable narrators continue to figure strongly in fiction.
  • 1980s nostalgia in novels continues after the success of Ready Player One and as the 1980s teens find more time to read and influence publishing and entertainment now that most of their children are adults or older teens.
  • Speculative fiction and geek culture has gone mainstream, and a lot of literary fiction now includes science fiction or fantasy elements; this trend is likely to continue because geek culture appears to be expanding with each computer generation.
  • Dystopian fiction, Amish romance, zombies, erotica, new adult romance, and steampunk are still big, but they may be on the wane overall. In the meantime, chick lit is having a bit of a renaissance.
  • Fictional biographies, such as The Swans of Fifth Avenue, The Arrangement, and Platinum Doll have caught the attention of readers.
  • Now that Stieg Larsson’s Millennium series has proven that writers from other countries can also produce bestsellers, publishers are seeking out literature in translation, and not just Scandinavian thrillers.
  • Nonfiction publishers are looking more for authors who already have a following and/or platform before agreeing to publish their work (celebrities, established authors, or writers with large social media followings).
  • Humorous, self-deprecating essays, memoirs, and biographies have captured the market, filling a similar role as some of the more popular bloggers, comedy writers, and stand-up comics, such as Jenny Lawson (@TheBloggess), Jim Gaffigan, and Mindy Kaling. Nothing is off-limits… nothing.
  • There is the usual interest in politics before the presidential election, and true-life stories from soldiers are trending high as the war on terror lingers and becomes more personal for many. Mary Roach’s upcoming expected bestseller Grunt will bring the science of war to the general public and will likely stir up the same type of interest in war that Stiff did for death.
  • Mental health issues are coming to the forefront, particularly PTSD and healing from trauma, spurred in part by returning soldiers, high-profile campus rape trials, and mental health questions about recent mass-killers. Parenting books will continue their focus on autism, the effects of social media, concerns about entitlement, and the rise in anxiety and stress disorders in children and teens.
  • Similarly, the application of neuroscience and sociology research for self-understanding and self-improvement continues to dominate the psychology/self-help market. Examples include Brene Brown, Malcolm Gladwell, and Charles Duhigg.
  • Interest in El Chapo seems to have captured the adult Spanish market. All of the Spanish publishers report that they have been actively searching for more original Spanish titles, so we may see an uptick in those titles if they are successful.
  • Social histories of Olympic sports, such as End of the Perfect 10 (gymnastics) and The Games: A Global History of the Olympics, and of course the inevitable doping controversies, will continue to rise in popularity as the Olympics loom and Americans hope to distract themselves from politics.
  • Speaking of politics, we will be watching for timely books focusing on scandals, attacks, and insider information as the election nears. Some forthcoming ones include Ratf**ked: The True Story Behind the Secret Plan to Steal America’s Democracy and Hillary’s America.
  • Some publishers are testing the library market by publishing simultaneous hardcovers for titles that would normally only be available in original paperback. James Patterson has taken the opposite approach and is testing short paperback originals for people who do not usually read for fun. The availability of print-to-order has made format experimentation relatively low-risk.
  • An increasing number of titles published by mainstream houses were originally self-published, and increasing numbers of established authors are leaving the big houses to self-publish at least a portion of their titles.
  • And finally, we’re seeing libraries purchase adult coloring books in some surprising numbers to meet the demand for adult coloring and stress reduction programs.

To learn more about what Ingram’s Collection Development team can offer your library, visit