And yet somehow print sales are down in Canada, according to BookNet Canada. They put out a press release this morning with the news that print sales in Canada fell 3% in value and 4% in volume.
Print is doing so well that consumers are buying less of it. Or at least that data from a limited subset of retailers is saying; we don’t know that it is accurate until there is independent confirmation (and Data Guy is too busy to get on this soon).
Print book sales in the Canadian trade market fell in 2017, dropping by 4% in units sold and 3% in value sold compared to 2016. This is according to sales from a subset of retailers who report consistently to BookNet Canada’s sales tracking service, BNC SalesData, and so can be used to track year-over-year changes in the print market. SalesData does not track the sale of ebooks, digital audiobooks, or used books, any of which could have an impact on declines seen in the print market.
Overall, Canadian book buyers purchased 51.5 million print books for just over $1 billion in 2017. Of these, 40% were Juvenile (including Young Adult), 32% were Non-Fiction, and 26% were Fiction, which shows minor gains for Juvenile at the expense of the other two categories since 2016, when the breakdown was 38%, 33%, and 27%, respectively.
Though Juvenile as a category once again reigned supreme, the five bestselling print books of the year were adult titles. Looking at unit sales in SalesData, which tracks 85% of the print market in Canada, the top seller of the year was the trade paperback edition of the self-help juggernaut The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson, followed by The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur, Origin by Dan Brown, The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware, and Milk and Honey also by Kaur. In 2016, the Poetry category saw a 79% spike in sales that was largely due to Milk and Honey, and the debut has continued to see strong sales in 2017. In the Juvenile category, the top seller for 2017 was The Getaway by Jeff Kinney, which was released in early November, followed by Wonder by R.J. Palacio and Dog Man Unleashed by Dav Pilkey.
It’s interesting to note that two of the top five books — The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck and Milk and Honey — are both backlist titles, having been published in September 2016 and October 2015, respectively. The edition of Wonder that came in second among Juvenile books is also an older title; the trade hardcover came out in February 2012. Sales of that title, of course, were likely buoyed by the film adaptation starring Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson, and Jacob Tremblay that was released in November. In 2017, 60% of all print book sales were for backlist books, which is up by 2% over 2016.
More information on 2017 book sales, broken out by category, will be released later this winter in our annual report, The Canadian Book Market 2017. Further information on sales trends, format breakdowns, reading behaviour, and more can be found at booknetcanada.ca/research.
image by archer10