Print Book Sales Fell 2.6% in 2023

Helped by a 1.7% improve within the fourth quarter, unit gross sales of print books fell solely 2.6% in 2023 from 2022 at retailers that report back to Circana BookScan. The dip was lower than many trade members had feared this summer time, when gross sales have been steadily declining and have been down 4.1% after the primary 9 months of the 12 months. Eight titles bought a couple of million print copies in 2023, the identical quantity that topped that stage in 2022, 5 of which got here from two authors: Colleen Hoover had three titles crack the million-copy mark and Rebecca Yarros had two.

The sturdy efficiency by Hoover and Yarros helped drive up gross sales of grownup fiction titles by nearly 1% over 2022, a strong efficiency contemplating gross sales within the class jumped 8.5% in 2022 over 2021. No different class posted a rise within the 12 months, although the declines in most segments have been far much less in 2023 than in 2022. Inside grownup fiction, the fantasy style carried out greatest, with gross sales leaping 51.7%, led by Yarros’s two bestsellers, adopted by a 24.2% improve in gross sales of horror/occult/physiology titles. Graphic novel gross sales had the largest decline, down 22.4%, however was nonetheless the third largest subcategory inside grownup fiction.

Gross sales within the largest print phase, grownup nonfiction, fell 3.1% in 2023, a a lot slower price of decline than in 2022, when gross sales dropped 10.3%. The class obtained a giant enhance from two memoirs, Spare by Prince Harry, which bought greater than 1.2 million copies, and The Lady in Me by Britney Spears, which bought greater than 908,000 print copies. Total, gross sales within the biography/autobiography/memoir class elevated 1.8% final 12 months, topped solely by the 6.4% improve within the faith phase and the three.8% achieve in journey.

Whereas total grownup gross sales held up pretty properly in 2023, youngsters’s gross sales continued to wrestle, with juvenile down 4.7% and nonfiction off 7.1%. Dav Pilkey’s Canine Man: Twenty Thousand Fleas Below the Sea was the highest vendor in juvenile fiction, promoting nearly 1.1 million copies, whereas Jeff Kinney’s latest Wimpy Child title, No Brainer, bought greater than 715,000 copies.

The 12 months noticed one thing of a bounce again for frontlist gross sales, which declined solely 3.1% final 12 months in comparison with over 10% a 12 months in the past, whereas backlist dipped 2.6%, from a decline of three.7% in 2022.

Gross sales efficiency by format was one thing of a shock in that hardcover gross sales, regardless of worth will increase, held up higher than commerce paperback, with hardcover gross sales falling 1.6% in comparison with a decline of two.6% for commerce paperback. Mass market paperback all however disappeared final 12 months, with gross sales falling 15.6% and accounting for simply 3.4% of all items bought. Board guide gross sales have been mainly flat at 48 million copies.

Nonetheless forward of 2019

Regardless of the 2023 gross sales drop of two.6% and the extra pronounced decline of 6.5% between 2021 and 2022, print unit gross sales in 2023 have been nonetheless 10% forward of the final prepandemic 12 months in 2019. Throughout 2023, most publishers took painful steps to handle the overstaffing they engaged in to fulfill the upper gross sales of 2020–2022, and with the inflation-induced greater prices moderating in current months it’s hoped that the lengthy sought-after new regular could lastly settle in in 2024. In fact, publishers observe that 2024 additionally brings with it lots of uncertainty, together with a presidential election, and many questions and issues about what AI will carry to the guide enterprise.

A model of this text appeared within the 01/08/2024 challenge of Publishers Weekly underneath the headline: Print Gross sales Decline Eased in 2023