Rare Book Monthly

Articles - November - 2023 Issue

US New Book Sales Drop Across the Board in First 9 Months of 2023, But eBooks, and Audiobooks Show Gains

Sales of print books fell in all major categories for the first nine months of 2023.

Unit sales of print books fell 4.1% in the first nine months of 2023, compared to the same period in 2022, at outlets that report to Circana BookScan according to a recent article in Publishers Weekly.


The book trade publication said, “Sales in every major category fell, with the most notable development being the third-quarter swoon in adult fiction, where sales dropped 7.6%, leaving it 0.2% below the first nine months of 2022… Graphic novels, which posted huge gains in 2021 and 2022, continued to see sales slide in 2023, with units down 24.3% in the nine-month period. Even with the big decline, graphic novels was the third-biggest adult fiction subcategory, trailing only general fiction and romance.”


PW said that while the total of 526.8 million units sold through September is down from comparable periods in 2022 and 2021, it is still up 3% over 2020 and almost 11% over 2019.


Looking at the global market WordsRated wrote in June, "The global book publishing industry, including both the trade and educational segments, is projected to rise by 1.9% annually by 2030. However, unexpected circumstances like the global pandemic could heavily influence the market for better or worse. As of 2023, the global book publishing revenue stands at $129 billion, jumping from $122 billion in 2018.”


The global book publishing market will be valued at $143.65 billion in 2023 and is expected to grow to $163.89 billion by 2030.


With respect to global book sales statistics, trade books are the market’s biggest segment, accounting for more than 60% of global revenue. However, the trade segment has seen some stagnation over the last several years:


As for the US market, Words Rated wrote, as of 2022, over 788 million copies of print books were sold in the US in one year. While this figure presents a drop from a record-breaking 2021, print book sales are still well over pre-pandemic levels.


In terms of the age categories, adult nonfiction still dominates the market, but the young adult segment is the one that’s recording the fastest growth.


A similar view emerged from book sales statistics put together by bloggingwizard.com also released in June of this year. Here’s a quick roundup of some of the data from this list:


By 2025, ebooks will generate $17.7 billion in annual revenue around the world. (Statista8) (Annual revenue for ebooks was $13.5 billion in 2017 for comparison.)


Between 2005 and 2021, print publishing industries saw a decline of over $68 billion in revenue. (Statista2).


The most popular book category in the United States, nonfiction, sold 289,612 units in 2022. (Statista3)


Revenue from audiobooks amounted to $1.6 billion in revenue in 2021. (Statista9)


Data published by Statista on audiobook sales shows that revenue from audiobooks reached $1.6 billion in the United States in 2021.


That information comes from 28 publishers, including Audible, Simon & Schuster, Penguin Random House, HarperCollins, HachetteAudio and Macmillan.


The website explodingtopics.com graphed the growth of ebooks and audiobooks and wrote, "Audiobooks are one of the biggest high-growth sectors for the publishing industry, " adding that, "ebook sales are actually outperforming audiobooks."


Other growth areas were an increase in self-publishing. The number of readers who get their audio books from the public library also grew significantly. Another trend noted was the increasing popularity of book summary sites.


A September overview from the blog.gitnux.com/book-sales-statistics predicted the revenue from book sales in the U.S. is expected to reach 23.9 billion dollars in 2023. This site also observed the trend of borrowing digital media from public libraries.


According to their data, Mexico experienced the highest increase in book sales between 2020 and 2021, with a 39% jump - this is important as it shows the potential of the book market in Mexico, and highlights the need for further research into the factors that led to this growth. It also noted that Print books continue to dominate the global book market, but their revenue is declining while ebook and audiobook revenue is steadily increasing.

Rare Book Monthly

  • Freeman’s | Hindman, June 25: [Keats, John] Spenser, Edmund: The Works of that Famous English Poet, Mr. Edmond Spenser. $50,000 - $80,000.
    Freeman’s | Hindman, June 25: (Walton, Izaak): The Compleat Angler or the Contemplative man's Recreation. Being a Discourse of Fish and Fishing. $30,000 - $50,000.
    Freeman’s | Hindman, June 25: Thomas, Gabriel: An Historical and Geographical Account of the Province and Country of Pensilvania; and of West-New-Jersey in America. $25,000 - $35,000.
    Freeman’s | Hindman, June 25: [Carroll, Lewis]: The Game of Alice in Wonderland. $2,000 - $3,000.
    Freeman’s | Hindman, June 25: Athias, Joseph, et al.: Biblia Hebraica. $7,000 - $10,000.
    Freeman’s | Hindman, June 25: [Warhol, Andy, and Jens Quistgaard] Dansk Designs Salesman's Presentation Catalogue. $2,500 - $3,500.
  • Sotheby’s, June 26: Poe, Edgar Allan. Tamerlane — the most poignant rarity in American literature. 400,000 - 600,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, June 26: The Declaration of Independence. "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal..." 2,500,000 - 5,000,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, June 26: William Blake. “Poems with very wild and interesting pictures” 1,200,000 - 1,800,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, June 26: Thomas Taylor [artist]. The original cover art for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. 400,000 - 600,000 USD
  • Bonhams, June 15-25: 18th Century American Sea Captain's Journals of Voyages to Hawaii, China, and South America. $35,000 - $45,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Admiral Richard E. Byrd's Autograph Diary from Bolling Advance Base, Winter 1934. $40,000 - $60,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Thoreau, Henry David. Walden; Or, Life in the Woods. Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1854. $4,000 - $6,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Cellarius, Andreas. Harmonia macrocosmica seu atlas universalis et novus, totius universi creati cosmographiam generalem, et novam exhibens. $20,000 - $30,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Nobelist George Stigler's Copy of Ricardo's Classic on the Science of Economics. $20,000 - $30,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Histoire charmante de l'adolescente sucre d'amour. Paris: F. L. Schmied, 1927. $15,000 - $20,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Fine Copy of Walras's Classic on the Theory of Marginal Utility. $12,000 - $18,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Arion Press Moby Dick. Melville, Herman. $8,000 - $12,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Venegas, Miguel. Noticia de la California, y desu conquista temporal, y espiritual hasta el tiempo presente. $7,000 - $9,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Carelton Watkins, Yosemite and the West. Portfolio of 21 imperial albumen prints. $6,000 - $9,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: An Unpublished Archive of Thornton Wilder Correspondence to F.J. O'Neil. $6,000 - $9,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Vesalius, Andreas. 1514-1564. Suorum de humani corporis fabrica librorum epitome. $100,000 - $150,000
  • Bonhams, June 25: Vesalius, Andreas. 1514-1564. De humani corporis fabrica libri septem. $200,000 - $300,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Gersdorff, Hans Von. 1455-1529. Feldtbuch der wundartzney. $40,000 - $60,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Pare, Ambroise. C.1509-1590. La Methode Curative des Playes, et Fractures de la Teste humaine. Avec les pourtraits des Instruments necessaires pour la curation d'icelles. $25,000 - $30,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Reisch, Gregor. 1470-1525. Margarita Philosophica. $20,000 - $30,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Bright, Richard. 1789-1858. Reports of Medical Cases, Selected with a View of Illustrating the Symptoms and Cure of Diseases by a Reference to Morbid Anatomy. $12,000 - $18,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Berengario da Carpi, Giacomo. C. 1460-1530. Tractatus de fractura calve sive cranei. $10,000 - $15,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Vicq D'Azyr, Felix. 1748-1794. Traite d'antomie et de physiologie. $8,000 - $12,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Croce, Giovanni Andrea Della. 1509?-1775. Chirurgia libri septem... $8,000 - $12,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Bruno Da Longburgo. 1200-1286. La cyrogia di Maistro Bruno: Expertissimo in quella. Tradutta in vulgare. $8,000 - $12,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Schwann, Theodor. 1810-1882. Mikroskopische Untersuchungen uber die Ubereinstimmung in der Struktur und dem Wachsthum der Thiere und Pflanzen. $8,000 - $12,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Cowper, William. 1666-1709. The Anatomy of Humane Bodies, with Figures Drawn after the Life… $6,000 - $9,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Bidloo, Govard. 1649-1713. Anatomia humani corporis, centum & quinque tabulis, per artificiossis. G. de Lairesse ad vivum delineatis. $6,000 - $9,000

Article Search

Archived Articles

Ask Questions