By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson
McLean: ‘As If Someone Turned Down the Volume’In her Circana Bookscan report on the month of August for the United States’ print book market, industry analyst Kristen McLean notes, “While August print book sales were up over the previous four weeks,” this summer, “they were down by 7 percent from the same period in 2022, underlining the fact that the US book market is slowing a bit” heading into the fourth quarter.
McLean says that when it comes to adult fiction, “It looks as if someone turned down the volume starting August 1.”
Her data indicates that American adult fiction print sales dropped by 1.3 million units in August, with romance contributing “the steepest declines, led by drops for some of the big authors who have been drivers in the category.”
McLean offers three more top-line observations:
- Backlist share held steady in August, she says in her summary for the news media, with backlist books accounting for 72 percent of overall print sales—the same levels as August 2022. “The market is holding at 70 percent share of backlist year-to-date,” she writes. “This now seems like a stable benchmark with room for possible improvement in Q4.”
- Although the fiction drop is notable, McLean says, “it’s moderate in the overall scale of the market, and even now is being partially offset by cyclical growth in other categories.” The year-to-date performance is still down four percent, she says, and weekly losses remain incremental.
- “Geographically, smaller markets are still outperforming big markets,” McLean writes. “The best-performing of the Top 10 designated marketing areas (Dallas) is still only ranked at No. 20 by 52-week performance.”
In bestsellers tracked by Circana’s BookScan system, Rebecca Yarros’ May 2 release from Entangled, Fourth Wing (The Empyrean, 1) was at No. 1 in August for a second month.
McLean points out that eight of the Top 10 titles were adult fiction, reflecting a typical trend for the month of August.
A programming note: Circana BookScan’s Kristen McLean is one of the speakers scheduled to discuss multi-format publishing on Wednesday (September 13), in Bookwire’s “Shaping the Future of Digital Books” program. More information is in our preview article here.