Mid-year state of the nation

It feels like a new year—somehow the fall always does—but, and we hate to break this to you, we're over the half-way point of 2016. So with the back-to-school/summer's over/new year vibes, it felt like a good time to check in on the state of book sales so far in 2016. What's up, what's down, is this real life, etc. We pulled some numbers from SalesData, which tracks sales for print books in the Canadian trade market, for the first six months of 2016 to get a sense of how the year is shaping up compared to the same time period in 2015. 

We found that unit sales were much the same as last year: down only 1.1% for the first half of 2016, compared to the same period in 2015—nothing too dramatic, no big red flags. There's some comfort to be found in stability. 

The distribution of sales between fiction, non-fiction, and juvenile (including young adult) did change some from the first half of last year to the first half of this year. Non-fiction titles sold only slightly more units in 2016, up 0.9% over the same period last year. The value sold for those non-fiction titles also grew slightly by 1.2%. Units sales of fiction titles were down 5.1% over the first half of 2016 with a 1.7% decrease in value sold as well. Unit sales for juvenile titles (which include young adult books) was up slightly by 1.0% while the value of sales increased by 5.6%.

What formats are readers preferring, you ask? We looked at our consumer surveys to find out, comparing data from the second quarter of 2015 to the same period in 2016. Paperbacks continue to be bought most often, accounting for 54% of all purchases in 2016, down slightly from 55% in the same period last year. Hardcovers placed second, making up 23% of books purchased in 2015, the same share as at the end of the second half of 2016. With 16% of sales in the first half of 2015, ebooks come in third, increasing ever so slightly to 18% for the same period this year. Audiobooks also made small gains in 2016, climbing to 3% from just 2% in 2015.

Watch for our year-in-review post coming in January to see how the next six months take shape!