The book is alive! Alive, I tell you! Bookstore sales rose in 2015 for the first time since 2007. It was only a modest 3.5% increase, but an increase is an increase, PW reports, with indie bookstores, springing up in the wake of Borders collapse, leading the way.
As e-book sales began to cool, the decline in sales at physical bookstores began to slow down in 2013, while the number of new bookstores continued to post low single-digit increases; the 4.4% increase in outlets in 2015 was the biggest gain since 2006, if not earlier. Since the demise of Borders, independent bookstores have made up a significantly larger share of the number of bookstores in the U.S. The year before Borders closed, ABA stores accounted for 51% of bookstores, a share that rose to 71% in 2015. Indie stores, of course, don’t account for nearly that percentage of bookstore sales, but in many communities they are the only retailer where consumers have access to a wide range of titles. Since Borders closed, Barnes & Noble’s store count has fallen from 705 outlets to 647, whereas the number of Books-A-Million outlets rose from 231 in 2010 to 256 in 2015, mainly due to the 43 Borders leases it took over as the bankruptcy auction was winding down.
According to the report, there are 3,130 bookstores in the US. I doubt this number includes all comics shops, as it counts only American Bookseller Association members. Comics shops are definitely indie bookstores, but I don’t know if any are ABA members. At any rate that adds up to around 5000 outlets for graphic novels and comics, something to keep in mind.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.