With another increase in 2022, bookstore sales completed a three-year climb to return to prepandemic levels. According to preliminary estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau, bookstore sales neared $9 billion in 2022, a 6.2% increase over 2021 and 0.7% higher than in 2019. Last year’s sales represent a gigantic improvement over 2020, when sales tumbled 46% from 2019 after the pandemic forced all nonessential retailers to close for long stretches.

The increase in 2022 was largely due to a strong performance in the first part of the year over 2021, when the retail recovery was still struggling to gain traction. In the three of the last seven months of 2022, sales fell from 2021, though bookstores were able to shake off the effects of inflation and recession scares to post small monthly gains in November and December—increases that were likely due in part to higher book prices.