As we come to the end of 2016, what big stories happened in the publishing industry over the last year? Quite a few interesting things occurred, so I’ve chosen to highlight the few that tickled my fancy.
Bookstore Sales Rose – For the past several years, sales from bookstores have been rising. Other than a brief blip following the US election in November when no one was buying much of anything, that trend continued this year. In particular, independent bookstores saw increases in revenue.
Barnes & Noble Struggled – Despite the overall success of bookstores, book selling chain Barnes & Noble has had a rough year. Its sales through the Nook e-reader have been flat, and the company fired Ron Boire, its CEO, in August. Barnes & Noble founder Len Riggio is serving as interim CEO until a new one is found.
e-Book Sales Fell – Just as purchases from bookstores rose, e-book sales have fallen during 2016. This pattern has held true across all of the major publishers and may be the result of individuals trying to spend less time dealing with e-readers and other digital devices. (…I’m sure the billions of books already on many of our To Be Read lists isn’t helping increase sales.)
Follett Acquired Baker & Taylor – These book wholesaling giants combined to make a mega-corp with annual sales of $3.6 billion. Follett has asserted that this acquisition will allow the company to expand its ability to distribute books and other content to libraries, schools, and retailers throughout the world.
Based on all of that, what are my predictions for 2017?
I imagine that e-book sales will continue to fall – digital fatigue is real – and I hope that bookstore sales will continue to rise. I am a fan of physical bookstores after all though I remain uncertain about the fate of Barnes & Nobles. (For the most part, however, I do like the chain, and I wish it all the best with locating a new CEO.) I am also optimistic that some new imprints, including Alison Hennessey’s Raven Books will thrive despite whatever mergers and acquisitions happen at the distribution level. Imprints can often be more resilient than the larger companies.
Of course those are just a few of my predictions. If you have heard rumblings about other major changes or if you have any insight you want to share about trends in e-book or print sales, please share them!