NPD Reports Growth in U.S. Print Book Sales for the Fourth Consecutive Year

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Unit Sales Increased 3 Percent, Driven by Strong Growth in Non-Fiction and Children’s Books

J.K. Rowling’s frontlist and backlist sales uplift of 6.5 million units in 2016 represents almost the entire 3 percent increase across the Juvenile category in 2016.

According to Trends and Findings in Children’s Bookselling, the latest report from global information provider, The NPD Group, print book* unit sales in the U.S. increased 3 percent in 2016, selling over 674 million units vs. the 653 million sold in 2015. The growth in print was driven by considerable increases in sales of Non-Fiction and Children’s books, as well as Adult Coloring books.

Non-fiction saw the largest unit growth, increasing 7 percent in 2016. Fiction was down 1 percent, but would have experienced steeper declines if not for the 13 percent growth in Comics & Graphic Novels. Juvenile and Young Adult sales were up 3 percent, with Children’s Fiction increasing 5 percent. Most Children’s Fiction categories saw growth in 2016 with the exception of General Fiction, Social Situations, and Concepts. Children’s and Young Adult Comics & Graphic Novels were a bright spot with 24 percent growth in 2016.

“J.K. Rowling’s frontlist and backlist sales uplift of 6.5 million units in 2016 represents almost the entire 3 percent increase across the Juvenile category in 2016,” said Kristen McLean, Executive Director, Business Development, NPD Books. “Her sales increased in 2016 due to the release of Cursed Child, Fantastic Beasts, illustrated editions, and the subsequent increased sales in her backlist.”

Growth Drivers – Children’s and Young Adult Books

Juvenile book sales are growing year over year, with Children’s and Young Adult books outpacing the total market with a growth rate of 3 percent compared to 1 percent growth, overall.

Juvenile Non-Fiction has been growing year over year; the Young Adult Non-Fiction category, while small, also experienced growth. Young Adult Fiction is down versus 2015, primarily due to the lack of blockbuster titles, series, or related movie events

Looking at the bestseller list for Juveniles in 2016, 17 out of the top 20 slots belong to books from the backlist, and only five of those are back on the list because of some kind of movie or pop-culture event. Beloved classics like Green Eggs and Ham, Goodnight Moon, and Brown Bear, Brown Bear have returned to the list after several years away, joining newer classics like Wonder, which has been embraced by the education market. “It’s a totally different dynamic than what we saw as recently as two years ago,” said McLean. “This is a factor of the children’s market settling down after a few dynamic years.”

*excludes higher education books

About The NPD Group, Inc.
The NPD Group provides market information and business solutions that drive better decision-making and better results. The world’s leading brands rely on us to help them get the right products in the right places for the right people. Practice areas include apparel, appliances, automotive, beauty, consumer electronics, diamonds, e-commerce, entertainment, fashion accessories, food consumption, foodservice, footwear, home, mobile, office supplies, retail, sports, technology, toys, video games, and watches / jewelry. For more information, visit npd.com and npdgroupblog.com. Follow us on Twitter: @npdgroup and @npdtech.

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David Riley
The NPD Group
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