Canadian publishers sold 50.5 million units in 2016 at a value of C$983.7 million ($753.4 million), according to figures released by BookNet Canada whose BNC sales data service covers 85% of the market in Canada. The point-of-sales data covers print books exclusively and not e-books, digital audiobooks, or used books. Overall, print unit sales fell 6.4% and revenue was down 3.6% from 2015. Sales of nonfiction books were hit hardest, with a drop of 10.4% in units sold, fiction fell 6.7% overall.
“In terms of market share, fiction, nonfiction, and juvenile accounted for 26.9%, 33.1%, and 38.0% of the print trade market in 2016, respectively, which is similar to 2015,” said the new report.
The five top-selling books for 2016 were, in order, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, and John Tiffany; The Nest by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney, All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, 99 by Wayne Gretzy, and Diary of a Wimpy Kid #11: Double Down by Jeff Kinney.
As for formats, e-book sales accounted for 16.8% of the market last year, down from 19% in 2015, according to customer surveys from 2016. Print books — paperbacks and hardcovers combined — accounted for 78.1%. Audiobooks showed no appreciable change in sales and remained approximately 2.6% of sales, according to the report.
In 2016, online purchases of books rose 1.8% to account for a total of 48% of book sales, while sales through bricks-and-mortar channels fell 1.7%, to 52% of overall sales. Paperbacks remained the most popular format, accounting for 54.2% of all purchases verses 51.1%, and gained ground over hardcovers.
“Over the last 10-15 years we have seen online sales increase consistently year on year in terms of market share. With fewer bricks and mortar stores available for Canadians to buy books it makes sense to see something of a shift,” said Kate Edwards, executive director of the Association of Canadian Publishers.
Looking ahead, Edwards told PW that her organization is meeting this week and one item on the agenda will be NAFTA, which. President Donald Trump has threatened to renegotiate. “ The U.S. market is incredibly important to Canadian publishers and is a significant part of the business for many,” she said. “Part of the that success comes from the cultural exception that is part of NAFTA. If NAFTA is to be reopened we will be watching out to see this cultural protection be maintained.”