Unit sales of print books in the week leading up to Mother’s Day, May 11, 2014, rose 9.8% over the previous week—the eighth largest week-over-week increase in the year, according to an analysis of Nielsen BookScan data. The three largest weekly increases occurred in December, culminating in what is traditionally the biggest book-buying week of the year—the week before Christmas. Sales that week jumped 30.5% over the previous seven days, and units topped out at 29.6 million.
Excluding sales figures from the Christmas holiday season, the week leading up to Mother’s Day had only the third highest week-over-week gain. Easter week in 2014 posted a significant increase, with sales up 17.2% over the previous week. The weeks after Christmas and Easter weeks suffered by comparison, posting the second and third largest sales declines, respectively. While print unit sales for the week ended Dec. 29, 2013, nevertheless topped 18 million (making it the fourth highest sales week of the year), the week after Easter had the lowest total print unit sales of the 52-week period, at 9.8 million. Thanksgiving week, which, last year, ended Nov. 24, 2013, and which is often thought of as the beginning of the holiday shopping season, had the ninth biggest weekly increase of the year ended May 11—though, at 13 million copies sold, the week was the sixth biggest in terms of absolute print unit sales. The real holiday season in 2013 seemed to have started the week ended November 10, when unit sales rose 11.1% over the prior week.
The week ended June 9, 2013, had a 12.2% increase over the prior week (the sixth largest weekly gain during the past year), but rather than being tied to a holiday, the increase was due to low book sales the week before (which was the week of Memorial Day) and the strong debut of Entwined by Sylvia Day. Unit sales during Father’s Day week in 2013 rose 4.9% over the prior week, and, at 12 million copies (aided perhaps by graduations), were actually higher than unit sales during the week of Mother’s Day.
The weeks around two other summer holidays had among the lowest print sales in the past year, in terms of both absolute sales and week-over-week comparisons: sales during the Fourth of July week in 2013 totalled 10.4 million, down 5.7% from the previous week, while sales during the Labor Day week last year fell 5.2% from the previous week. The week ended Jan. 5, 2014, had the biggest week-over-week decline, at 40.4%. The drop is due to the end of the big book-buying season and also increased e-book sales after the holidays, as buyers try out new e-readers received as gifts. In general, though, the slowest weekly sales were in the warm-weather months—particularly in May and July: each had three weeks among the bottom 10 weeks of the year, in terms of units sold.