Bookstore sales had one of there best monthly performances in years in July when sales rose 5.9% over July 2014. According to preliminary estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau, bookstore sales in July rose to $717 million, up from $677 million a year ago.

Sales in the month were helped by the July 14 release of Harper Lee's Go Set A Watchman, which had the highest first week sale of print copies since Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol was published in 2009. The strong July sales performance followed a 3.9% increase in June when the publication of E.L. James's Grey gave a lift to sales. For the first seven months of 2015, bookstore sales were up just under 1%, hitting $5.61 billion.

For the entire retail segment, July sales rose just 0.9% and sales for the first seven months of the year were up 2.2% over the comparable period in 2014.