Print sales have evened out in 2017 and unit sales of books increased by a paltry 1.9% last year, which is slightly less than annual growth rates of 3% posted between 2013 to 2016. The low growth is primarily attributed to the adult coloring book sector flatlining and there was no breakout beseller such as Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Big blockbusters are both a blessing and a curse for the book publishing industry. In the years where they hit, they drive tremendous success for publishers; but afterwards the inevitable drop in sales back towards normal feels like a loss. It is a feast or famine phenomenon, if no blockbusters emerge to take their place the following year.
During the recent holiday season, which includes the eight weeks leading up to Christmas, U.S. book sales increased 2 percent on the previous year. Christmas book buyers shopped later than they did in 2016, leading to sales declines from November 26 to December 9; however, book sales surged 7 percent year-over-year in the final week before Christmas. The top five titles in 2017 totaled 4.5 million copies, compared to 8.4 million in 2016.
Adult non-fiction title unit sales increased 3 percent year over year in 2017, with continued acceleration in the self-help, political science, business, and cooking categories. However, there were steep declines in the crafts and art category, as formerly brisk sales of adult coloring books in 2015 and 2016 subsided.
Unit sales of adult fiction titles decreased 1 percent in 2017, compared to the previous year. While there was significant growth in the horror category, led by Stephen King’s “It” bolstered by the film’s remake last year, those gains were offset by losses in the romance and religion categories.
Children’s books continued to thrive with a 3 percent boost in 2017, led by R.J. Palacio’s “Wonder” and Jeff Kinney’s “Diary of a Wimpy Kid #12: The Getaway”. There were lifts in early childhood books, with 11 percent year-over-year growth in board books and 20 percent growth in graphic novels, tied to the success of Dav Pilkey’s Dog Man series.
via NPD BookScan
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times.