Bookstores sales fell 2.3% in September, to $954 million, compared to sales of $976 million in September of 2018, according to preliminary estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau today.

Bookstore sales have been soft for much of the year, due in part to tough comparisons to last year, when political book were driving sales, as well as continued weakness in college stores, where students have gravitated more toward the use of digital materials. As a result, bookstore sales for the first nine months of 2019 were down 5.6% from the comparable period a year ago, dropping to $7.42 billion, from $7.86 billion in the first nine months of 2018.

For the entire retail sector, September sales rose 3.7% over a year ago. Sales for the first nine months of the year were up 3.3% over the comparable 2018 period.