The news about print books deserves a lot of ink-pun intended. Data coming from Nielsen Book Scan, which reportedly tracks some 80% of all print sales in the country, is very positive. The number of print books sold in 2016 rose by 3.3% making it the third straight year of growth for what was predicted a few years ago to be a declining medium.
The biggest gains came in these categories:
· Adult non-fiction print books up 6.85%
· Indie bookstores, chains and Amazon up 4.95%
· Hardcover books up 5.43%
· Board books up 7.43%
All print book sales captured by Nielsen Bookscan show that 674,151,000 printed books were sold in 2016. In 2013, just 620,044,000 were sold – a jump of almost 9%.
Not all was rosy, however large chains like Walmart and Costco saw a 5.3% drop in print book unit sales – a third year of declines. Mass market books, a dying breed, fell 7.71% in 2016 but are off more than 25% from 2013. Adult fiction dropped 1% and remains down 6.5% from 2013. Physical audiobooks sunk 13.5%, in part, because audio downloads rose.
Though I’m happy to hear that print books are in a healthy place, as measured by the traditional channels, I still wonder about the sales Nielsen Bookscan cannot track, including:
· Sales at events
· Bulk sales to organizations
· Sales from a publisher or author website
· Sales at sites like ebay
· Mail order catalogs
How does Nielsen Bookscan know it captures 80% of all sales? If it knows it’s missing 20%, how does it account for what they say can’t be counted? Seems like a Catch-22-I don’t get how they know what’s missing unless they can actually count it up, in which case, nothing would be missing.
The report didn’t discuss overall profits from print books. Were prices up or down?
It also didn’t detail the genres. For instance, are kid books up or down? Are coffee table books hot or cold? My hope is that new readers are taking to print and that they stay with it for life. Print is a beautiful thing. It’s the way books were meant to be. Digital has its place – but it should be a distant second place.
Long live print books!
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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at email@example.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2017©. Born and raised in Brooklyn, now resides in Westchester. Named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby http://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/09/the-best-book-marketing-blogs
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