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Print book unit sales in the U.S. 2004-2019

Whilst it is common knowledge that traditional media is no longer as prosperous as it once was, and print newspapers and magazines in particular are suffering, data showing how many books were sold in 2019 revealed that the printed book market is surprisingly healthy. Printed book sales amounted to 689.45 million units in 2019, down slightly from the previous year but still a significant improvement on the years 2012 to 2016.

Book sales statistics 2018

Looking at book sales by year, 2005 to 2010 were the most lucrative for the printed book market, with well over 700 million units sold annually during that five-year period. After dropping below 600 million in 2012, gradual and consistent increases can be seen each year, and if the trend continues then printed book sales will surpass 700 million again by the end of 2019. For bookstores though, how many books are sold each year depends on the success of key months across a twelve-month period, namely August, September, December, and January.

When it comes to trade book sales, 2018 was a good year for revenue. Adult fiction and non-fiction generated over 5.1 billion U.S. dollars, showing positive growth from 2017, and revenue from religious presses grew from 568 to 593.7 million in the same time span. The categories which are less profitable are university presses, professional books, and educational materials, all of which have been consistently dropping in revenue since 2014.

Unit sales of printed books in the United States from 2004 to 2019

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Release date

January 2020


United States

Survey time period

2004 to 2019

Supplementary notes

Figures have been rounded.

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

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