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Number of independent bookstores in the U.S. 2009-2019

The number of independent bookstores in the United States was impressively high in 2019, with 1,887 independent bookselling companies running 2,524 stores. During a recent survey in the United States, 20 percent of respondents stated that they still purchase most of their print books in store, in comparison to 22 percent who stated that they mostly buy books online. However, in 2018, bookstore sales in the United States amounted to just 10.28 billion U.S. dollars, a decrease from almost 17 billion U.S. dollars a decade earlier.

What kinds of books do U.S. readers buy?

Some of the bestselling books in the U.S. sell hundreds of thousands of units each week, and Michelle Obama’s ‘Becoming’ was the top selling print book in 2018 with over 3.4 million copies sold. The average annual expenditure on reading per consumer unit in the United States hovers around the 100 U.S. dollar mark each year – not a figure many would shout about, but thus far enough to keep the industry afloat. Consumer expenditure on recreational books generally amounts to between 18 and 22 billion U.S. dollars per year, and unit sales of general fiction books for adults stood at more than 20 million in the first half of 2018. Books categorized as being in the suspense/thriller genre were by far the most popular, accounting for almost half of unit sales during that time period. Romance, mystery/detective, classics, and graphic novels also sold well, whereas juvenile and young adult fiction books with the most sales were mainly centered around science fiction, fantasy, and magic.

Number of independent bookstores in the United States from 2009 to 2019

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Release date

May 2019


United States

Survey time period

2009 to 2019

Special properties

American Booksellers Association members

Supplementary notes

Figure for 'locations' for 2014 not available.
Figures other than for 2017 and 2019 come from earlier releases.

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Statistics on "Book market in the U.S."

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