Sales of mind, body, spirit books boom in UK amid ‘mindfulness mega-trend’
While fewer titles are selling in other genres, reading that offers a path to spiritual growth has risen 13% in 2017.books Updated: Aug 02, 2017 08:35 IST
The UK’s “mindfulness mega-trend” shows no sign of running out of breath, with sales of “mind, body, spirit” books booming, against a background of slowing sales elsewhere on the shelves.
Topped by Buddhist monk Haemin Sunim’s The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down, a guide to “how to be calm in a busy world” that has sold more than 43,000 copies this year, sales of titles offering spiritual assistance are up by almost 13.3% in volume in 2017, according to sales monitor Nielsen Book. This sits against a total consumer market drop of 1.6% on the same measure.
Rhonda Byrne’s perennial bestseller The Secret is the next-best performer, with 29,000 print sales. Other hits include Eckhart Tolle’s 1999 guide to spiritual enlightenment, The Power of Now, Gabrielle Bernstein’s The Universe Has Your Back, Louise Hay’s You Can Heal Your Life and Dominique Loreau’s L’art de la Simplicite: How to Live More With Less.
In fourth place is the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu’s The Book of Joy, with sales of more than 12,000 copies so far this year. Its premise perhaps best sums up what anxious book buyers have been looking for this year: “How do we find joy in the face of life’s inevitable suffering?”
Bernstein, similarly, promises in The Universe Has Your Back that she will help readers “feel safe and trust your life no matter what”. She adds that she is looking to wake up as many people as possible to their connection to faith and joy. In that connection, we can be guided to our true purpose: to be love and spread love,” she writes. Loreau’s L’art de la Simplicité was a major bestseller in France before it was translated into English, and, says its publisher, will show readers how to “simplify your home, empty your wardrobe, abandon compulsive purchases, eat more frugally but better, take care of your body and mind”.
Clement Knox, Waterstones nonfiction buyer, attributed the boom to the “mindfulness mega-trend”, which he said “really broke down the barriers between self-help and mind, body, spirit”.
“Mindfulness was embraced by the mainstream but many of its tenets came out of what was once called ‘new age’ thinking,” he said. “Mindfulness has brought along a number of related trends in its wake – kindness, gratitude, and mantras to name a few. It helped destigmatise [the genre] and also refocused lifestyle trends away from consumption and towards approaches to living. It is striking the extent to which the big new commercial lifestyle trends such as hygge, lykke, and lagom are focused on developing a group of mindsets and attitudes rather than simply buying a new way of life.”
He also pointed to the rise in popularity of meditation and yoga. “Meditation in particular has the imprimatur of a number of scientific studies and is the subject of a growing body of literature. For example, there is a book out in September called The Science of Meditation by Daniel Goleman. It is being published by Penguin – by no means a fringe publisher. I think this scientific validation has really helped reinforce people’s interests in taking seriously a practice that was once considered quite exotic, if not strange,” said Knox.
Judy Piatkus, who founded Piatkus Books, a leading player in this field, pointed to a major shift in society in the last 20 years. She believes the sales boom is being driven by a sea change in personal priorities: “Millennials haven’t got the same values as older people. They are looking at their lives, saying: ‘This isn’t working, how can I manage my life? … How can I be the best person I can be?’”
“People are looking for help to deal with the stress of the uncertain period through which we’re living,” she said. “We’ve so many things to worry about, and people are looking for a way to make a difference in the world – [so] they’re turning to spiritual thinking.”
She pointed to strong current sales of “the classics”, such as The Power of Now, Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist and 2006’s The Secret.
“The big names continue to generate good sales – the likes of Doreen Virtue, Eckhart Tolle, and Paulo Coelho – but they have been joined by a new crop of writers,” agreed Knox. “These include John Parkin of Fuck It: Do What You Love fame … and Kyle Gray, an up-and-coming young author published by Hay House.” Gray’s books include Raise Your Vibration: 111 Practices to Increase Your Spiritual Connection and Angels: How to See, Hear and Feel Your Angels.
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