The revival of print book sales continued into the first half of 2016. Unit sales of print books rose 6% in the six-month period ended July 3, over the first six months of 2015, at outlets that report to Nielsen BookScan. The gain follows a roughly 3% annual increase in print unit sales last year at outlets that report to BookScan, which captures about 80% of all print sales.
The sales improvement occurred despite the lack of a big new print hit in the first half of 2016. The top-selling print title so far this year was a perennial favorite, Oh, the Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss, which sold approximately 458,000 copies (for more 2016 bestsellers, see p. 5). The strongest category was adult nonfiction, with units up 12%. The segment benefited from the continuing popularity of adult coloring books, which dominated sales in the crafts/hobbies and art/architecture areas, where unit sales increased 133% and 51%, respectively, in the first half of this year, over the first six months of 2015.
The juvenile nonfiction segment also had a solid start to 2016, with unit sales up 9%. There was no standout new title in this category either, with the sales increase coming from a mix of education-related books, religion books, and adult coloring books. Unit sales of juvenile fiction had a mild rebound in the first six months of the year, rising 3% after falling 5% in the first half of 2015. Dr. Seuss titles helped to drive the gain in the segment, as did books by favorites such as Eric Carle, Jeff Kinney, and Bill Martin Jr.
Adult fiction was the only category in which units declined in the first six months of the year, posting a small drop of 0.4% compared to the same period in 2015. The category suffered from the lack of a big book. The top seller in the segment was Me Before You by Jojo Moyes, which sold more than 439,000 copies, just about half of what The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins sold in the first six months of 2015 (880,000 copies), and far behind Grey by E.L. James (758,000 copies).
By format, sales of board books continued to grow, with units up 13% in the first half of 2016. In the first six months of 2015 board book sales rose 10% over the January–June period of 2014. Trade paperback, the format for adult coloring books, had an 8% increase in units, while hardcover sales rose 6%. The two formats that had declines in the first half of 2015 also had drops in the first six months of 2016. Unit sales of physical audio fell 13% (compared to a decline of 17% in the first half of 2015) and units of mass market paperbacks dropped 8%, slowing from a 10% decline in the first six months of 2015.
Unit Sales of Print Books January–June, 2015 v. 2016
|Retail & Club||238,573||256,970||8%|
|Mass Market Paperback||31,786||29,134||-8%|
*Totals for 2016 include units sold through Family Christian Stores. No sales through Family Christian are included in 2015.
Source: Nielsen BookScan and Publishers Weekly. Nielsen BookScan’s U.S. Consumer Market Panel covers approximately 80% of the print book market and continues to grow.