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Highest earning print book genres in the U.S. 2017

In 2017, textbooks generated an estimated revenue of 419.28 million U.S. dollars, making books in this category the best-selling type of print book in terms of online sales. Meanwhile, the second most lucrative category were printed children’s books, and online sales of print books centered around business amounted to almost 169 million U.S. dollars.

The U.S. book market: an overview

Although many traditional industries are struggling to keep up with consumers’ growing demand for digital formats, retail sales of U.S. bookstores tend to reach between 650 and 750 million dollars per month. In the months of December, January, and August, such sales frequently either hit or surpass the 1.2 billion dollar mark, a trend which has been evident for the last five years.

However, whilst bookstore sales remain comparatively healthy, other elements of the U.S. book industry are suffering. Higher education book publishing revenue has dropped by more than one billion U.S. dollars since 2013, and student spending on course material also noticeably decreased during the same time period. Major chain Barnes & Noble hasn’t had it easy, either – the company’s retail sales have dropped consistently year on year since 2012 and show no signs of improving. Barnes & Noble’s e-reader brand NOOK also proved to be somewhat of a disappointment, with net sales taking a nosedive from over 930 million U.S. dollars in 2012 to less than 112 million in 2018.

Leading online print book genres in the United States in 2017, by revenue

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Release date

January 2018


United States

Survey time period

Q2 - Q4 2017

Supplementary notes

Figures have been rounded.

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