Bookstore sales fell 0.8% in 2011, the slowest rate of decline since bookstore sales peaked at $17.18 billion in 2007, according to preliminary estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau. Since 2007, bookstore sales declined a total of 9.6%. The modest drop in 2011 comes with one big caveat—December bookstore sales fell 15.6%, by far the largest decline of the year.
The large December decline reflects the absence of Borders plus the increased sales of e-books; publishers will be looking to see if the large December downward trend continues into January. After Borders closed the last of its outlets in September, declines in bookstore sales increased every month, falling 6% in October and 8% in November, before tumbling in December.
Census Bureau estimates include all sales at stores where books account for at least 50% of overall revenue and aren’t limited to how book sales fared across book retailers.