Sales of print books through outlets that report to Nielsen BookScan’s retail & club channel fell 2.5%, to 501.6 million units, in 2013, compared to 2012. Total print units this year were 620 million; for the first time, that total includes sales from Walmart, which became part of BookScan’s mass merchandiser and other channel in 2013, the addition of which skews year-over-year comparisons. The retail & club channel includes all bookstores plus Amazon and accounted for approximately 81% of units sold through outlets that report to BookScan. Retail & club unit sales fell 11.4% between 2011 and 2012; the 2011 total includes sales from the liquidation of Borders. Between 2011 and 2012 total units (which do not include Walmart figures) fell about 9%.

Since e-books became a significant factor in the marketplace, the decrease in units through the retail & club channel has been due almost entirely to the decline in the adult fiction category, where units fell 11.2% in 2013. In addition to the greater number of fiction readers who have moved to e-books, compared to nonfiction readers, sales in the category in 2013 were hurt by the lack of a blockbusters on the scale of the Fifty Shades trilogy in 2012. The most impressive performance among the four major categories was in juvenile fiction. Unit sales were down in the category for much of 2013 due to comparisons with the 2012 blockbuster trilogy the Hunger Games. Unlike adult fiction, however, juvenile fiction was able to rally late in the year, led by a number of huge hits that included Hard Luck, the latest Diary of a Wimpy Kid entry and the top-selling print book at outlets that report to BookScan in 2013.

Among the print formats, hardcover fared best in 2013, with unit sales down by less than 1% in the retail & club channel. Mass market paperback had the largest decline in units in 2013, as the format continued to suffer from cannibalization from e-books and declines in shelf space at physical retailers. The board book category was nearly immune from the growth of digital sales, with units up 16% in the year at retail & club outlets.

BookScan captures point-of-sale data from outlets that Nielsen estimates sell about 80% of print units.

Unit Sales of Print Books in Retail & Club Channel, 2012-2013

2012 2013 % Change
Total 514,135,000 501,658,000 -2.5%

Unit Sales of Print Books by Category, 2012-2013

2012 2013 % Change
Adult Nonfiction 225,708,000 225,224,000 -0.2%
Adult Fiction 116,600,000 103,477,000 -11.2
Juvenile Nonfiction 31,261,000 33,081,000 5.8
Juvenile Fiction 110,800,000 111,097,000 0.2

Unit Sales of Print Books by Format, 2012-2013

2012 2013 % Change
Hardcover 140,333,000 139,762,000 -0.4%
Trade Paperback 290,482,000 282,024,000 -2.9
Mass Market Paperback 49,649,000 45,138,000 -9.1
Board Books 11,036,000 12,802,000 16.0
Audio 4,923,000 4,654,000 -5.5

Source: Nielsen Bookscan