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Print Book Sales Rose Again in 2016

From Publishers Weekly:

Despite a less-than-ideal environment—no breakout bestsellers on the adult fiction side and a lengthy, brutal election cycle that sucked nearly all of the air out of the cultural conversation—unit sales of print books were up 3.3% in 2016 over 2015. Total print unit sales hit 674 million, marking the third-straight year of growth, according to Nielsen BookScan, which tracks about 80% of print sales in the U.S.

Most print formats had an outstanding year, with hardcover up 5.4%, trade paperback up 4%, and board books up 7.4%. Mass market has been on the wane since the introduction of e-books, and its slide continued in 2016 with a 7.7% drop in unit sales. Physical audio, where sales were down 13.5% on the year, also took a big hit from digital.

The largest gains came in the adult nonfiction category, where sales were up 6.9% from 2015. Several subcategories posted substantial increases, among them crafts and hobbies, where the adult coloring book boom—though slowing down from 2015’s blitz—continues to have a large impact. The religion and self-help areas also saw boosts, though for different reasons. Several big-name religion authors published new titles last year and racked up six-figure sales (Pope Francis, Lysa Terkeurst, Sarah Young), whereas backlist powered the self-help category: of the top five self-help titles, only one, Angela Duckworth’s Grit, was published in 2016.

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly

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18 Comments to “Print Book Sales Rose Again in 2016”

  1. Me wonders what % was sold by that evil on-line store called Amazon.

    • 41% of it was Amazon

      275,000,000 of BookScan’s 674,000,000 total were Amazon print sales.

      Neither number includes another 16,500,000 Createspace indie print sales last year, because Amazon doesn’t report Createspace sales to Nielsen.

  2. I do resent them calling crafts supplies, like adult coloring ‘books’ books. So they don’t have to quote the actual figures for BOOKS.

    • That 674 million “print book” total from Nielsen includes Calendars & physical-CD Audiobooks, too. 🙂

      • Calendars? Those are not books in any sense of the word, except that they are printed on paper.

        How about those rolls of toilet paper with jokes printed on them? Do those count as books, too?

        I think lying has become the national pastime.

      • Wow, DG. Every time you post something, it makes the whole thing look worse. Maybe they should be counting that joke toilet paper! More sales makes the shareholders feel good. 😉

    • Anything to help make their dropping numbers look more positive — they’d add the cost of the colored pencils/crayons if they could figure out how to call them ‘books’.

  3. > the cultural conversation

    [blank look]

    [googles term]

    No clues there, either.

    • You have to look under ‘corporate’ where it explains it as a nonsense bulls**t bingo card phrase.

    • Basically that’s a buzzword bingo term for “stuff people are talking about”. Pair it with “synergy” and “leverage” and you’ve got the beginnings of an integrated and holistic mission statement. 😉

    • “Cultural conversation”

      — books that you see everywhere you go, because of co-op.

      NOT the backlist. That stuff was last year.

  4. I’m surprised there’s no big reported rise in mass market paperback fiction. Here in the UK novels are practically given away – one of our big supermarkets is now selling a range of bestselling novels for just £1.99 and there’s no sales tax to add to that figure.

    • Considered ‘deep discount’ by the publisher no doubt, so while they make a little money on each one sold the writer won’t be seeing anything from it.

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