Sales of print books in Canada dropped dramatically in the first quarter of 2011 compared to the first quarter of 2010, according to new figures from BookNet Canada. Overall, the market was down 10.9% in units sold and by 10.8% in terms of dollar sales.

Sales declined in all categories. Fiction suffered the biggest drop at 16.9% in units and 15.4% in dollar value. Nonfiction was down 7.6% in units and 9.9% in value. The number of juvenile books sold was 6.3% lower than in 2010 and decreased in value by 6.6%.

BookNet CEO Noah Genner attributed the drop to a combination of factors, including the sale of digital books, tough economic conditions and the lack of the type of blockbuster hits that have buoyed sales in recent years. “There are some books doing well, but there hasn’t been anything of the volume that we’ve seen in the last few years like with Twilight, Stieg Larsson and [Harry] Potter before that. And there is definitely some portion of that going to e-books.”

Genner said he could not say what proportion of the drop could be attributed to e-book sales because BookNet is still developing a panel to measure digital sales and estimated it won’t be ready for a year or so.

BookNet Canada’s national book sales tracking system, BNC SalesData, uses the year-over-year sales from a fixed panel of 665 retail locations, a subset of 1,600 reporting stores across the country.