Here Are The Most Popular and Purchased Books by Amazon Customers in 2020

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Kelly Jensen


Kelly is a former librarian and a long-time blogger at STACKED. She's the editor/author of (DON'T) CALL ME CRAZY: 33 VOICES START THE CONVERSATION ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH and the editor/author of HERE WE ARE: FEMINISM FOR THE REAL WORLD. Her next book, BODY TALK, will publish in Fall 2020. Follow her on Instagram @heykellyjensen.

We’ve seen the best of lists, including Amazon’s best of 2020 and The New York Times best of 2020. Those lists, determined by editors, don’t necessarily showcase what it is customers or readers were picking up this year — and while the Goodreads Choice Awards certainly give insight into what readers want to see the spotlight, again, it’s not quite the same as the raw data on how readers actually behaved.

Enter: the most popular and purchased books by Amazon customers.

Take a peek below at what Amazon customers were seeking out in 2020 cross a number of interesting categories.

The Most Purchased Books on Amazon in 2020

This data comes from compiling sales on Amazon, Audible, and Amazon Books and represents not just 2020 releases but backlist titles as well. It will come as no surprise that the titles on this list include political titles and anti-racism reads, as well as books that have been long-standing bestsellers.

  • American Dirt: A Novel by Jeanine Cummins

The Most Read Books of 2020

Seven of the top ten most read books of 2020 were from a certain wizarding series, so those were removed from this data, compiled by looking at Kindle and Audible data. It’s especially interesting how many of these are not 2020 releases (and likewise, Michelle Obama’s memoir makes this list but Barack’s does not!).

  • Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
  • American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins
  • Midnight Sun by Stephenie Meyer
  • Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

The Top Anti-Racism Books in 2020

Though none of these titles made the “most read” list, these were the most purchased anti-racism books in 2020. It’s unsurprising to see the anti-racism book by a white woman top the list.

  • How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi

What Amazon Customers Listened To

Here’s an awesome statistic: almost 65% of the top audiobooks category — which means readers listened to the audiobook more than they read the Kindle edition — were fantasy books. Omitting that one series again, here are the top audiobooks purchased and listened to this year. You will no doubt notice how white and male it is.

  • Oathbringer (The Stormlight Archive, Book 3) by Brandon Sanderson
  • Dune by Frank Herbert

The Most Sold Celebrity/Public Figure Memoirs of 2020

Last, but not least, take a look at the books and stories written by well-known celebrities or public figures that Amazon customers were purchasing. Again: notice which ones aligned with this year’s most-read list.

  • Untamed by Glennon Doyle
  • The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir by John R. Bolton
  • A Promised Land by Barack Obama
  • Becoming by Michelle Obama
  • Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson

A mix of frontlist reads and backlist reads across all of these categories showcase that not all readers are only reading the latest and greatest.