Despite the desire of many to declare the death of the book, they continue to sell at a breathtaking pace. (New Yorker magazine “Twilight of the Books” and BBC future – “Are paper books really disappearing?”)
According to the “Association of American Publishers’ StatShot Annual Report for Calendar Year 2018,” book publishers based in the U.S. had net revenue of $25.82 billion and sold 2.71 billion units. That is billion with a “B.”
This means that in 2018 86 books were sold every second or 5,160 books per minute.
I’d say that’s something to celebrate, don’t you?
Of course, these numbers are estimates. (Note the article’s method for calculation at the end of the piece.) But no matter how you shake it, books are selling.
If you dig further in their report, a couple things jump out (quoting from the article):
- Within online retail channels, 45.1% of publishers’ sales were trade print formats, 24.5% were eBooks, 14.5% were instructional materials, 13.7% were downloaded audio, and 2.2% were physical audio or a different format.
- Religious presses revenue grew 14.7% in 2018 to $1.22 billion with 75.7% of the revenue coming from print formats.
Also note that none of these statistics account for indie-published books. These are traditional publishing estimates.
So, go ahead, celebrate a little. Treat yourself or someone you love to an ice cream cone. Smile a little at the knowledge that the business of bookselling is still viable.
One last thought to ponder. With Barnes & Noble being sold to a private equity firm, we will no longer hear public quarterly reports on their sales growth or decline. In other words, the bad-news cycle will quiet somewhat. I, for one, am grateful for the respite.