“Ghosts,” by Raina Telgemeier. (Courtesy of Scholastic)

TO GRASP the big picture in publishing in 2016, it’s illuminating to look at all the smaller pictures. Because last year, the only area within adult fiction that rose from 2015 was graphic novels.

So reports Publishers Weekly, which in citing Nielsen BookScan numbers, writes: “The lone bright spot in fiction was comics and graphic novels, which had a 12% increase on the year.”

Fiction overall was nearly flat last year, dipping by 1 percent. There were “no breakout bestsellers” in adult fiction, PW reports, and almost “all fiction subcategories closed out the year lower than in 2015.” Yet amid this nearly across-the-board decline on the fiction side, comics were too popular to be denied.

Batman. Star Wars. The Walking Dead. These were just three of the franchises that powered comics sales last year. Elsewhere, Raina Telgemeier continued to dominate the paperback graphic books sales charts, as her newly debuting “Ghosts” joined her megasellers like “Drama,” “Smile” and “Sisters.” And she was joined on that list by such new titles as “March Trilogy” from Rep. John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell — the first graphic novel to win the National Book Award.

2016 also saw continued growth in the adult coloring book market, and Jeff Kinney’s hybrid-illustrated kids’ book “Double Down” (1.1 million) was one of only three books to top 1 million units (the other two were by J.K. Rowling and Bill O’Reilly).

Adult nonfiction was also up — nearly 7 percent — and overall, sales of print books were up 3.3 percent last year, hitting nearly 675 million, the third straight year of growth, PW reports.

Nielsen BookScan tracks about 80 percent of American print sales.

(courtesy of DC Comics 2016)
(Courtesy of DC Comics)