With sales falling every month in the first quarter of 2019 compared to 2018, bookstore sales were down 8.4% in the first period of this year compared to 2018. According to preliminary estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau, bookstore sales in the 2019 first quarter were $2.37 billion, down from $2.59 billion a year ago.

For March, sales fell 7.1%, dropping to $645 million from $694 million in March of 2018. Likely causes for the decline include the lack of a blockbuster title or category to compete with the strong sales of political books in last year's first quarter, a much later Easter than in 2018, and softness at college stores.

The overall retail market performed much better than bookstores. Total sales were up 2.3% in the quarter and 1.8% in March.