Circana: US Print Book Sales Up 3 Million Units in May 2024

In News by Porter Anderson

In May 2024, Circana BookScan reports, the US print book market was 5 percent higher than it was in May 2023.

A May twilight on Union Square in Manhattan. Image – Getty iStockphoto JohnEMac72

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

See also: AAP StatShot: US Book Trade Was ‘High-Performing’ in April

‘A Strong Mother’s Day’
Our report on Monday (June 17) included an unusually upbeat StatShot report from the Association of American Publishers (AAP), citing total revenues across all categories up 18.3 percent as compared to April 2023. As the writers behind the StatShot report, point out, digital audio in April 2024 saw a remarkably sharp rise in performance at 55 percent.

Arriving in our offices today (June 18), the Circana BookScan report for the United States’ market in print sales seems to indicate that the next StatShot report—which covers all formats, not just print—could be another positive one.

May, in the US print book sector, Circana’s Brenna Connor reports, “was a strong month,” with unit sales volume rising 5 percent—almost 3 million units—above the same figure for May 2023. By MSRP (manufacturer’s suggested retail price), the dollar value was up by 8 percent.

A part of what drove up May’s performance, Connor writes, had to do with retail promotional events and “a strong Mother’s Day.”

Brenna Connor

Adult fiction was the top-performing segment of the print book market, contributing “70 percent of the gains” in May by comparison to last year’s May performance.

Connor writes, “Additionally, this is the second consecutive month that the market improved its year-to-date performance one point, measuring -1 percent through May, which is up compared what we measured in April when we were down -2 percent and March when we were down -3 percent. If the strong performance continues, we’ll see sales flat over last year and a possible gain over the summer months.”

Connor also points to two key points from Circana’s May analysis.

In adult content trends, thrillers and romance posted the highest gains in May, with authors Stephen King and Julia Quinn each gaining ground “following the release of Bridgerton’s third season on Netflix on May 16,” that Regency romance being part of a series by Quinn.

In children’s content, study aids and early-learner workbooks saw the highest growth,” Connor writes, “a seasonal trend that kicks off in early summer months.” To date this year, nonfiction school and education are running above the 2023 levels of volume, along with math books.

Performance and Bestsellers

Print books in May 2024 remained above May 2023 sales levels, creating four weeks of growth over the prior year.

Image: Circana BookScan through week ending June 1, 2024, US print sales only

Notice that seven of the Top 10 adult bestsellers are in genres of thriller and romance.

Image: Circana BookScan, four weeks ending June 1, 2024, adult and young adult combined. US print sales only

Once more at this time of year, “seasonal” titles related to graduation and school readiness are part of the Top 10, those titles in color below.

Image: Circana BookScan, four weeks ending June 1, 2024, juvenile market. US print sales only

More from Publishing Perspectives on industry statistics is here, and more on Circana research here. 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.