As of 2022, over 487.3 million adult print books are sold every year in the US.
While adult print book sales declined by 3.71% over the last year, the sales are still 12.39% above the pre-pandemic levels in 2019.
Adult books account for over 61.95% of all book sales in the US, which is the highest mark over the last 5 years.
Overall, adult fiction book sales are 10.92% higher compared to 2018, with an average annual growth of 2.7%.
Most of these gains are attributed to the adult fiction category, while the nonfiction section is on a decline.
Total adult book sales (million units sold)
Adult nonfiction books sell over 289.3 million units per year, making them the highest-selling category of books.
37.48% of all books sold in a year are adult nonfiction books.
Adult fiction contributes to 189 million copies sold in a year, accounting for 24.48% of total books sold.
Adult fiction books have been on the rise over the last 5 years, increasing unit sales by over 40.94% since 2018.
On the other hand, nonfiction adult books, even though still the highest-selling category, dropped sales figures by 2.6% over the last 5 years.
Adult nonfiction sales
Adult fiction sales
Adult book sales revenue
Adult books generate over $6.01 billion in sales revenue per year as of 2021.
This was the first time that the revenue from adult book sales went over $6 billion.
Adult book revenue was strong during the two pandemic years, increasing 10.75% and 10.07% in 2020 and 2021, respectively.
The covid-19 pandemic boosted adult book sales, and the revenue has increased by 21.9% since 2019.
Even though adult books generate 68.9% of total book sales revenue, their share decreased over the years, once standing at 75.5% of total revenue in 2013.
Adult book sales revenue ($ billion)
Adult coloring books statistics
Adult coloring books became the fastest-growing adult category in 2015.
That year, the sales jumped 12x, from million units in 2014 to 12 million in 2015.
Only during the month of December 2015, over 3 million copies were sold in the US.
During that time, 5 out of the 10 bestselling books on Amazon came from this category.
This popularity even led to the growth of coloring pencils sales, which grew by 26% in 2015 over 2014.
Adult coloring books were the main driving force behind the rise of adult nonfiction 12% sales growth during the first half of 2016 compared to the first half of 2015.
By 2017, the sales started to decline, and the in the first quarter of 2017, Barnes & Noble reported that the 8.3% drop in bookstore sales is mainly attributed to the fall of adult coloring books.
However, a potential reason for the drop in sales is due to the redistribution of publishing channels, where a huge number of independent publishers and bookstores, who don’t report sales and revenue numbers as often as big publishers, continued with the sales.
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