Publishers Weekly has an overview of bookstore sales in 2016, via Bookscan, and print sales edged up 3.3%, the third year of growth.

The gains came from non-fiction, up 6.9% from 2015, with growth in the arts and crafts category (yes that’s adult coloring books), self help and religion.

In adult fiction, sales were down 1%. However, Graphic Novels were up 12%, the only category to show a rise.

Hear that? The ONLY category!

This is down from 2015’s rise of 22% for graphic novels, however. Last year PW had a breakdown by category, which would enable more triumphalism from our team.

Children’s books were basically flat; the only three titles to sell more than a million units were J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: Parts 1 and 2, Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard’s Killing the Rising Sun and Double Down, the new Wimpy Kid book from Jeff Kinney.

In the digital world, flat is the new up for print. Certainly the Internet may have killed magazines, but it didn’t kill books. And comics seem to be thriving.

Diamond should have its year-end figures out this week, but I’ll take a wild guess and say that The Killing Joke will be in the top 10 for GNs. Diamond’s sales through November show GNs up 1.85%, so I’d expect fairly flat numbers unless no one gave a book as a gift. We’ll have the Bookscan bestselling titles when Brian Hibbs writes up his yearly report – which you will be able to read right here on The Beat! 

Overall, despite the worrying and fretting and dumpster fires, graphic novel and comics sales are holding steady or rising. That doesn’t mean everything is awesome no no improvement can be made, but it does indicate a strong base.


  1. Wait a minute…
    2016 graphic novel sales were up 12% over 2015?
    2015 graphic novel sales were up 22% over 2014?

    2015 = 10,591,000 copies sold
    2014 = 8,669,000 copies sold

    2016 = 11.862,000 copies sold?
    That’s ONLY bookstore sales. Not libraries, not comics shops.


  2. i think this follows with the trends towards binging media and having access to stuff all at once. I think the idea of slowly reading a story in installments over a 4-6 month period really is at odds with how people are consuming media now.

  3. And PW’s unit count from that 2016 report — which I imagine is likely from Bookscan — is already good deal lower than what Brian Hibbs observed from the files for 2014 and 2015 for Bookscan, even if you excise Dork Diaries. So however they’re calculating the grouping may not be taking in everything we’d consider comics.

    Key is with +12%, that’s enough to keep the whole market growing overall regardless of the final DM score last year.

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