Confirming reports of a slow first quarter in 2010 from numerous Canadian publishers and booksellers, BookNet Canada’s figures show that both volume and value of book sales were down from the same quarter in 2009. The number of books sold in stores tracked by BookNet was down 2.8% and dollar value was down by 1.1%. (BookNet tracks year-over-year figures in a fixed panel of 665 stores, a subset of its 1,100 reporting stores. It defines the first quarter as December 28, 2009 to March 28, 2009).

YA was the hardest hit category. The number of units sold fell by 11.7% and sales dropped 16.5%. This, of course, is in comparison to the previous year, which included the spike of sales from Stephenie Meyer’s series. “The 'Twilight' phenom was still a huge factor in the numbers from the same quarter the year before,” noted BookNet CEO Noah Genner.

Nonfiction books dropped less dramatically, but still fell 4.1% in units and 2.2% in dollar value. Fiction was the only bright point, up 5% in the number of books sold and up 8.9% in value. Genner said that the increase was broad and general. “There weren't any specific titles that stood out as breakout bestsellers last quarter,” he said.

As for the quarterly totals, Genner said that “the numbers don't show any particular pattern that we can discern (other than the Twilight effect). There were definitely not as many 'breakout bestsellers' at the start of 2010 as there were was in the same quarter in 2009.”