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Year in review header - Book Depot and the publishing industry

2016 Publishing Industry Under the Microscope

At the end of each year, we anxiously await the results of how the publishing industry performed in comparison to the previous few years. We do this not only to keep abreast of the market trends, but also to have an additional benchmark to gauge Book Depot’s own success. Like all businesses, we set annual goals and forecasts for both sales and revenue— seeing how we trend against the industry is certainly important as we look back, but is absolutely imperative when looking forward. As Henry Ford said, “The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.”

Without further ado, here are our findings.


Publishing Industry

Upon review, the 2016 results were definitely a pleasant and welcome surprise. As a whole, the industry saw another successful year, recognizing a 3.3% rise in unit sales of print books over 2015, reaching 674,000,000 units. To put this into a historical perspective, this is the third-straight year of annual growth. Many formats recognized strong unit growth, with board books reaching 7.4%, hardcover 5.4%, and trade paper up 4% (Nielsen BookScan). However, not all formats saw annual growth. Physical audio fell by 13.49% and mass markets by 7.7%. These followed the previous years’ trends, due in large part to the increased e-book and e-audio market (Nielsen BookScan and Publishers Weekly – “Print Book Sales Rose Again in 2016”).




We were certainly pleased when reviewing the format results, but we were thrilled by the recognized category growth, which was very strong overall. The top performers were adult nonfiction at 6.85%, juvenile fiction at 3.8%, and juvenile nonfiction at 1.52%. Unfortunately, there was a slight dip in adult fiction at -1.04%. We welcomed this news, for it coincides with our strongest categories—having the deepest levels of inventory and the widest array of titles has proved once again that “[t]he largest selection pays”!


Book Depot

2016 was another strong year for Book Depot for unit sales growth. We experienced double-digit percentage growth overall, seeing our sales grow by 10.87%. This was attributed to strong category sales in juvenile fiction (15.73%) and juvenile nonfiction (7.09%), as well as an 11.42% format increase in our hardcover offerings. Unfortunately, like the general trend in the publishing industry, we saw a drop in mass market by -9.09%. We projected this drop in 2016 but will continue to focus on initiatives to maintain our mass market offering, while attempting to slow the market trend.




At Book Depot we are proud of our continued year-over-year growth trajectory. However, we are very much aware that our 2016 success was only possible because of our strong relationships, partners in the publishing community, and partners… like you! With our 2016 results, and those of the publishing industry, we at Book Depot have the confidence to move forward with setting robust goals for 2017. Knowing that the publishing industry has been solid over the past few years, we project to remain on an upward trajectory at least for the foreseeable future.


As an additional point of interest regarding 2016, the publishing industry category level results were driven by a solid top 10 best-selling print book list:



I know what you may be thinking—these books are great and had an impressive sell-through, but it will take years for them to become available in the bargain market. Well, that is not quite the case. During 2016, Book Depot offered 6 of the 10 at an average discount of 84.36% off of list price:

  • Killing the Rising Sun
  • The Girl on the Train
  • A Man Called Ove
  • Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
  • The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

At that margin, would any (or all) of these titles have had a significant impact on your company’s bottom line?

If you would like to discuss any of the information found in this blog, or how Book Depot may help your business, please feel free to reach out to me anytime.




Dave Wiggins

Book Depot

Sales Manager



****Additional sub-category level sales detail, as reported by Publishers Weekly in its “Adult Nonfiction Stayed Hot in 2016” article.


Unit Sales by Category-1



Unit Sales by Category-2


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