Bookstore sales fell 1.4%, to $16.50 billion in 2010, according to preliminary estimates released from the U.S. Census Bureau. The decline came despite a late rally in the year; a 5.3% increase in November sales was followed by a 2.3% gain in December when sales hit $2.09 billion. The December increase reported by the government was consistent with reports from many bookstores who reported their best holiday season in three years. Sales include all items sold through bookstores and as such reflect not just book sales but sales of digital reading devices (the Nook) plus toys, games and other merchandise.

The bookstore results were below that for retailers in general where sales for the year rose 6.6% and December sales increased 7.8%.