Are Bookstores Bouncing Back?

Retailers Seek The Perfect Mate
Bookstore sales are on pace for their best year since 2009.

Book lovers might want to rejoice — or at least, there’s new data that shows book sales on the rise for the first time in years, which could harken a potential return for the struggling bookseller industry.

According to information compiled by Statista, U.S. bookstores had their first positive sales year last year since 2009. Bookstores sales were up 1.9 percent total in 2015 to just over $5 billion, after years of sharp declines since 2009 that sometimes saw losses of over 7 percent of total sales per year.

Since 2009, which coincides with the recession and the continuing rise of Amazon into an online shopping goliath, total bookstore sales have fallen from a peak of about $7 billion in 2009 to just over $5 billion last year.

But there’s more good news as well. This year’s data shows bookstore sales increased by 6.1 percent in the first half of 2016, and with the holiday shopping season still around the corner, this could be the best year for U.S. bookstore sales in years.

So, what’s behind this change in consumer trends, and why are bookstore sales on the rise again after so many years of decline?

First, the bookstores of today very little resemble the bookstores of the pre-recession era. Yes, Barnes & Noble still offers tons of books for sale in its stores, but the book retailer has increased efforts to be known for selling more than just books. Most Barnes & Nobles now also have a café that sells coffee, pastries and sandwiches, as well as a section for eReaders and devices, toys, games, records, DVDs, music, movies and many other product offerings that the traditional bookstores of the past never carried.

Many local bookstores in larger cities now follow similar formats and have similar product offerings as a way to diversify their retail options and compete with online retailers, like Amazon, where consumers can buy pretty much anything they might want with the click of a button.