As physical bookstore outlets began closing their doors last week, unit sales of print books fell 10% for the week ended March 14 compared to the previous week, according to NPD BookScan, which tracks about 85% of all print sales.
Units sold were 11.1 million last week, down from 12.3 million in the prior week. Sales for last week compared to the week ended March 16, 2019, were off 5.7%.
Of the four major categories, only the juvenile nonfiction segment had a sales gain last week over the week ended March 14, according to BookScan. The 1.9% unit sales increase in the category was led by the education/reference/language area, where sales were up 38% and the games/activities/hobbies segment where units rose 25%.
The juvenile fiction category had nearly a 15% decline in unit sales compared to the previous week. No segment within the category posted a sales gain over the previous week, with the largest declines coming in the concepts and classics segments.
Adult nonfiction unit sales fell 12% from the previous week. Only two segments in the category had gains: sales in the biography/autobiography/memoirs segment rose 10%, and sales of self-help titles increased 0.4%. The biggest decline came in the travel segment, where units fell 30% from the prior week. The travel segment has been hard hit since the coronavirus all but killed the travel industry in the last few months.
Adult fiction sales fell a relatively modest 3.9% in the week. The action/adventure segment saw sales jump 38%, while general fiction sales increased almost 8%. The genres with the biggest declines were generally the ones where e-books are the most popular. The fantasy segment had the largest drop of print units, off almost 22%. Romance, westerns, and mystery/detective also had double-digit declines in the week.