R. R. Bowker announced its annual market share analysis of outlets for trade book sales. Here is the break down by percentages.
Outlet 2009 2010
Barnes and Noble 22.5% 23%
Amazon.com 12.5% 15.1%
Borders 14% 13.1%
Wal-Mart 7.0% 5.8%
Warehouse Clubs 3.6% 4.0%
Independents 3.4% 3.5%
Books-a-Million 2.8% 2.7%
Target 2.0% 1.9%
Supermarkets 2.0% 1.7%
There are some interesting and surprising numbers here. First of all there are quite a few venues that presumably aren’t broken out. These include but are not limited to: airport stores, libraries, school stores, book fairs, gift stores, other Internet outlets, Christian book stores, book clubs, mail order outlets, special and premium sales and of course self-published titles. That ‘s a lot. I’m sorry they didn’t break these down. It would leave me to question some of these statistics.
Before you ask, I will tell you that these numbers don’t include e-books, which in 2010 became a significant component of trade book sales. Some publishers have reported that e-book unit sales in 2010 account for about 10% of their total trade sales.
The most surprising number above is that Barnes and Noble (retail and on-line) continues to be the largest outlet for trade sales in America, far surpassing Amazon.com. On the other hand, these figures indicate that most of the growth in retail is coming from Amazon. I would imagine that given Amazon’s dominance in e-book sales, if e-books had been included, Amazon would show a larger percentage of market share. Of course, Amazon has chosen not to break out their e-book sales. They don’t even break out their book sales. It is treated as part of sales for their media division. Another reason to question the robustness of these statistics.
The other surprising statistic that should be alarming to all book lovers is that the market share of independent stores is only 3.5%. It’s nice to see that their share is increasing though. If you ask anyone in publishing, they will tell you that independent stores continue to be the heart and soul of bookselling. But sadly, their role has declined to a small niche. Books that might otherwise have been invisible to book buyers found their audience through the passionate advocacy of independent booksellers. I would ask: who is replacing them? Who is providing the passion in this business? I think I know the answer to that question. And I think that answer is pretty sad.
Borders Books declined slightly. This statistic also leads me to question the robustness of this analysis. Borders is the sick man of the book business. They have been pushed into bankruptcy this year and have already closed several hundred stores. There is a big question whether they will ever emerge from bankruptcy. Publishers seem unwilling to extend credit to them. There is a good chance that they won’t show up on next year’s list at all.
For awhile, Wal-mart was the fastest growing segment of the retail book business. There were a lot of people saying that they expected Wal-mart to be selling 25% of all books in the near future. This didn’t come to pass. Wal-mart’s market share declined substantially, more than any other market segment, more even than Borders.