Book sales decline less than 2%

The story in today’s papers (or at least my paper) was written the way it usually is, and I think it’s fair to blame the Book Industry Study Group for spinning the numbers this way:

That is:

  • The decline in books sold in the U.S. last year was announced in big fat numbers, 44 million of them. Wow! We’re all becoming illiterate!
  • The increase in book sales revenue was announced in percentages, 2.8% of them.
  • Accordingly, we see a trivial increase in revenue with a huge whopping end-of-the-world sky is falling decline in actual books sold.

44 million is a lot of books. But so is 2.295 billion, last year’s U.S. book sales. That comes out to 7.76 books per person, infants included.

In other words, nobody buys books any more. Or, by and large, any less either. (Last year had neither a Harry Potter book nor any other blockbuster books. It did have 175,000 new titles, which seems to be a Bad Thing to the BISG spokesperson.)

(What about libraries and ebooks? My best guess, looking at numbers, is that libraries might account for 10% of these sales. Ebooks account for something between 0.08% and 0.2%, depending on how much you believe in them.)

[If your aggregator picked this up again, apologies: I corrected a missing end-italics tag.]

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