Circana’s Report on US Print Books in April: Adult Fiction, YA Outperform

In News by Porter Anderson

A change in Easter timing by comparison to 2023’s dates may have had influence on the 4-percent sag in the market in April.

The ‘Royal Princess’ is seen here from the stern in the Port of Seattle in April. The ship is operated by Princess Cruises, a subsidiary of Carnival. Image – Getty iStockphoto: Randall Williams

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

See also: AAP StatShot: US Book Industry Flat in First Quarter

‘Children’s Subjects Showed the Most Declines in April’
Seeing the first-quarter StatShot report released late last week by the Association of American Publishers (AAP), the analysis of Circana BookScan from the Circana Entertainment Knowledge Group’s Brenna Connor suggests a similar track for the world’s largest book market in its print sector in the month of April.

“April volume in the United States’ book market was down 4 percent as compared to April 2023, but some of that decline can be attributed to the shift in Easter timing—which occurred in April last year but fell into March this year.

“While the net shows a decline,” Connor writes in her note, “both adult fiction and young adult outperformed this April over last year’s, which underscores the continued strength in these segments.

Brenna Connor

“Additionally,” she says, “the market improved its year-to-date performance by one point this month, to -2.0 percent compared to what we measured in March when we were down -3 percent.”

And Connor goes on to include four key points worth considering about the print market followed by Circana’s BookScan:

  • In content trends, Circana’s assessment credited romance and fantasy with the most gains in April, driven by new releases from authors including Emily Henry and Leigh Bardugo—seven of the Top 10 monthly adult bestsellers (below) are coming from these subjects.
  • Children’s subjects showed the most declines in April, compared to last, comping against subjects that sold well during spring holidays
  • Frontlist gained month-over-month share for a third month led by adult fiction.
  • Weekly sales for the week ending May 4 showed softer sales heading into the Mother’s Day [in the States, it was May 12 this year] compared to prior years.

Below we include three charts provided by the Circana team.

Performance and Bestsellers

In the April update from Circana, the question of softer sales prior to the US Mother’s Day (May 12) observance may be answered by a pickup following May 4, when the April observation period ended.

Image: Circana BookScan through week ending May 4, 2004. US print sales only


Image: Circana BookScan through week ending May 4, 2004, adult and young adult combined. US print sales only

As Connor notes, two Taylor Swift books from Penguin Random House made it into the Top 10 juvenile bestsellers in April.

Image: Circana BookScan through week ending May 4, 2004, juvenile market. US print sales only

More from Publishing Perspectives on industry statistics is here, and more on Circana research here. More on the work of Kristen McLean is here, and more on the United States book industry is here

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.