New Statistics have been released by Bowker Pubtrak showing shifts in book sales by Channel and by format. The report compares the second quarter of 2011 to the same period 2010. Not surprisingly Internet book sales are forging ahead. A lot of it was due to the closing of Borders. But book sales have been shifting online for some time. And similarly unit sales of ebooks are continuing to increase exponentially.
First let’s take a look at the channels. That’s a fancy word for where books are being sold. As you can see by the chart, e-commerce has increased from 27.6% to 37%. Borders’ closing certainly has a lot to do with this. Even with Borders open, last year Amazon barely beat out Barnes and Noble for the first time as the largest bookseller. We don’t know whether BN will come roaring back this year. After all, they stand to pick up the most from Borders’ closing. But Amazon, being the largest purveyor of e-books, may very well increase its market share as the largest bookstore.
Looking at some of the other channels, book clubs are becoming more marginal. When I first entered the book business in the 1970s, book clubs were a huge presence. Now they are insignificant. At that time one of the largest venues for selling books was department stores. As you can see in the graph, department stores have pretty much discontinued selling books, replaced by ladys’ handbags and designer beauty products.
Chain store sales have declined from 30.6% to 27.3%. That is a lot less than I would have predicted, given the fact that Border’s disappeared. The only significant chains that are left are Barnes and Noble and Books-a-Million. I would have to assume that a lot of the Borders’ business has been picked up by these two companies.
Moving down to the independent stores, some nice news here. Market share has increased from 4.5% to 5%. It is still distressingly low. But indies are also benefiting from Borders’ closing.
Mass merchants and warehouse clubs have declined slightly. That would be stores like Costco, Wal-Mart, and Target. There was a time back in the 90s when Wal-Mart bragged that it would soon be the largest purveyor of books. They expected to sell 25% of all books. It doesn’t look like it will happen.
Ok, now let’s look at how sales of book formats have been changing. Again these figures are for the 2nd quarter 2011 compared to the same period in 2010. The largest format is still paperbacks, both trade and mass market. But it has declined from 58.3% to 51%. Hardbacks too have declined significantly from 33.3% to 28.6%. And as expected ebooks are continuing to increase exponentially growing from 3.2% to 13.7%.