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January 7th, 2015

Print Book Sales Up in 2014

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Sales of print books in the U.S. were up 2.4 percent during 2014 over the previous year. Total sales of printed books was over $635 million.

Though the rise is relatively small, the Nielsen BookScan data shows that print books are selling better than they have since 2010 when ebooks first became immensely popular, according to Publishers Weekly. Sales through the “Retail & Club” channel were the primary driver of growth, with a 3.4 increase over the previous year. This channel includes online sources like Amazon as well as traditional bookstores. On the other hand, the “Mass Merchandiser Channel” (which includes stores like Wal-Mart and Target) saw a decrease, with sales falling 1.8 percent.

Speaking of Wal-Mart, BookScan just began including sales from the giant retailer in its calculations in 2013. Therefore, there is not accurate historical data to illustrate long-term trends. BookScan estimates that its numbers represent around 80 percent of the print books sold in the U.S.

Format

While there is a lot of good news in the report, it also shows that one type of book format saw sales losses. Mass market paperback books sales were down 10.3 percent in 2014. This is perhaps where the influence of ebooks is being felt the most.

All other categories of book formats saw sales increases, with trade paperbacks up 4.3 percent, hardcover books up 3.1 percent and audiobooks up 0.2 percent. Leading them all, however, is board books with a 17.4 percent increase.

Category

The numbers also break down the yearly differences by category of book. Juvenile Nonfiction saw the biggest gains throughout the year, with sales increases of 15.6 percent. This rise was due in large part to the success of the a Scholastic series of “Minecraft” books.

On the other end of the spectrum, Adult Fiction produced the only decrease, with sales down 7.9 percent.

Best selling books print books in various categories were “The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green (Juvenile Fiction), “Killing Patton” by Bill O’Reilly (Adult Non-Fiction) and “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn (Adult Fiction).