Print Book Sales Fell 2.6% in 2023 (Still ahead of 2019)

From Publishers Weekly:

Helped by a 1.7% increase in the fourth quarter, unit sales of print books fell only 2.6% in 2023 from 2022 at outlets that report to Circana BookScan. The dip was less than many industry members had feared this summer, when sales were steadily declining and were down 4.1% after the first nine months of the year. Eight titles sold more than one million print copies in 2023, the same number that topped that level in 2022, five of which came from two authors: Colleen Hoover had three titles crack the million-copy mark and Rebecca Yarros had two.

The strong performance by Hoover and Yarros helped drive up sales of adult fiction titles by almost 1% over 2022, a solid performance considering sales in the category jumped 8.5% in 2022 over 2021. No other category posted an increase in the year, though the declines in most segments were far less in 2023 than in 2022. Within adult fiction, the fantasy genre performed best, with sales jumping 51.7%, led by Yarros’s two bestsellers, followed by a 24.2% increase in sales of horror/occult/physiology titles. Graphic novel sales had the biggest decline, down 22.4%, but was still the third largest subcategory within adult fiction.

Sales in the largest print segment, adult nonfiction, fell 3.1% in 2023, a much slower rate of decline than in 2022, when sales dropped 10.3%. The category received a big boost from two memoirs, Spare by Prince Harry, which sold more than 1.2 million copies, and The Woman in Me by Britney Spears, which sold more than 908,000 print copies. Overall, sales in the biography/autobiography/memoir category increased 1.8% last year, topped only by the 6.4% increase in the religion segment and the 3.8% gain in travel.

While overall adult sales held up fairly well in 2023, children’s sales continued to struggle, with juvenile down 4.7% and nonfiction off 7.1%. Dav Pilkey’s Dog Man: Twenty Thousand Fleas Under the Sea was the top seller in juvenile fiction, selling almost 1.1 million copies, while Jeff Kinney’s newest Wimpy Kid title, No Brainer, sold more than 515,000 copies.

The year saw something of a bounce back for frontlist sales, which declined only 3.1% last year compared to over 10% a year ago, while backlist dipped 2.6%, from a decline of 3.7% in 2022.

Sales performance by format was something of a surprise in that hardcover sales, despite price increases, held up better than trade paperback, with hardcover sales falling 1.6% compared to a decline of 2.6% for trade paperback. Mass market paperback all but disappeared last year, with sales falling 15.6% and accounting for just 3.4% of all units sold. Board book sales were basically flat at 48 million copies.

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly

For those whose memories need a little assistance – 2019 was the Covid Plague Year.

PG’s favorite excerpt, “The year saw something of a bounce back for frontlist sales, which declined only 3.1% last year”