Bookstore sales continued to post generally small monthly declines in 2019 compared to 2018. For October, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that preliminary bookstore sales were down 1.7% from October 2018. Sales in October 2019 were $710 million, compared to sales of $722 million a year ago.
The same factors that have hampered sales throughout most of the year were at play again in October. With only a few big selling books this year, most notably Delia Owens's Where the Crawdads Sing, trade sales have had a hard time keeping pace with 2018 when sales of numerous political books spurred sales.
Sales through college stores have also struggled. The Association of American Publishers released a report this week from Student Monitor that shows college student spending on course materials declining 23% in fall 2019 compared to fall 2018. Some of that spending, the report notes, has gone for material not available at college stores.
Given all those factors, it is no surprise that bookstore sales for the first 10 months of 2019 dropped to $8.13 billion, from $8.58 billion, in 2018, a decline of 5.3%. For the full retail segment, sales in October were up 3.9% over last year and ahead 3.4% in the first to months of 2019.