Bookstore sales finished the first half of 2023 up 6.9% over the comparable period in 2022, rising from $3.61 billion a year ago to $3.86 billion this year. Bookstore sales were ahead of most other industry metrics, including unit sales of print books, which were flat in the first half of the year at outlets that report to Circana BookScan.

Sales were up in four of the six months in 2023 compared to 2022, though they were down slightly in June, dipping 0.7%, to $556 million, according to preliminary estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau. For the entire retail segment, sales rose 3.2% in the six-month period and were up 1.7% in June.

Compared to sales in 2019, the year before the pandemic disrupted the entire retail business, bookstores sales in the first six months of 2023 were down 5.9%, of 2019 when sales were $4.10 billion. Sales in 2019 have been restated by the government.