Good News: Cancel the Obituaries — Print Book Sales for 2015 Are … Up

Close up of open book on counter

The following article first appeared in The National Book Review

Reports of the death of print books were, it turns out, premature. Print book sales in the United States in 2015 are up more than 2 percent over last year, according to Nielsen BookScan. By early December of this year, Nielsen – which collects data on about 85% of book sales – reported 571 million paper books sold. That is up from 559 million last year.

Quartz, which reported the news, has a nice chart of the last three years which shows print sales jumping from 500 million in 2013 to 559 last year – and now, moving up once again.

There were some serious books that sold big in print in this year – including Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman, which was a runaway bestseller this summer and into the fall, and David McCullough’s The Wright Brothers (with over 3,400 customer reviews on Amazon, it seems to have found an audience). Children’s books also did well in paper: Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid #10: Old School reportedly cracked the million book mark.


But Carolyn’s Reidy, CEO of Simon & Schuster, told AP’s Hillel Italie that two new categories are now contributing to print sales: adult coloring books and books by YouTube stars.

Read more here.

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