Unit sales of print books rose 3% in the quarter ended April 5, 2015, compared to the first quarter of 2014, at outlets that report to Nielsen BookScan. All four of the major categories had an increase in the period, including adult fiction. Print unit sales of adult fiction have been the most negatively affected by the rise of e-books, and units for all of 2014 fell 8% from the prior year. In the first quarter of 2015, graphic novels and classics had gains of 18% and 10%, respectively, which helped offset declines in some key adult fiction genres such as fantasy, mystery/detective, and romance—all of which continued to see print sales erode.
Sales of general fiction (the largest genre in the adult fiction category) increased 7% over the similar period last year; for 2014, units of general fiction dropped 8%.
Units of adult nonfiction increased 3% in the quarter led by big gains in the biography/autobiography/memoir and house & home/gardening categories. Strong sales of biography/autobiography in the first quarter benefitted from the popularity of the different editions of Chris Kyle’s American Sniper book. An improving economy likely helped turn around print sales in the house & home category, where sales had previously fallen 8% from 2013 to 2014. More helpful was the runaway success of The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo, which sold nearly 200,000 copies in the first quarter. Computers and humor, two categories that had double-digit unit declines in 2014, had the biggest drop in the first quarter of 2015.
Juvenile nonfiction had the best first quarter of 2015, with units up 16%. Holidays/festivals/religion had the biggest increase in the quarter, with units up 26%. Books about Easter did much better in the first quarter this year than last year. Sales in the games/activities/hobbies category, which rose 33% in 2014 over 2013, had a solid first quarter in 2015 with units up 19%, once again thanks to sales of Minecraft books.
Unit sales in the entire juvenile fiction category rose 3% in the quarter, led by a 44% increase in the holidays/festivals/religion segment and a 26% gain in animals. Units in the largest juvenile fiction segment, general fiction, fell 3%, while units in the larger science fiction/fantasy/magic segment were flat. The latter category had a 38% unit increase in 2014, over 2013, led by the Divergent trilogy and the Frozen franchise. The top seller in the segment in the first quarter this year was Jeff Kinney’s The Long Haul.
Unit Sales by Category, First Quarter 2015
|Q1 2014||Q1 2015||CHANGE|
|House & Home/Gardening||575||720||25%|
|Total Adult Nonfiction||60,832||62,852||3%|
|Total Adult Fiction||33,881||34,365||1%|
|Total Juvenile Nonfiction||10,494||12,208||16%|
|General Juvenile Fiction||12,536||12,195||-3%|
|Total Juvenile Fiction||39,889||41,226||3%|