Publisher’s Weekly reports that used books are rapidly becoming one of the biggest growth areas in the bookselling business.
In findings that will surprise few in publishing, the Book Industry Study
Group report on used books found a rapidly growing segment that is likely to
continue to be one of the biggest growth areas in the industry. The size of the
used book market for non-education books– trade and professional titles–was
$589 million in 2004, while sales of used textbooks added another $1.6 billion,
putting the total used book market at $2.2 billion last year, a 11.1% increase
over 2003. Total unit sales were 111.2 million last year, with trade and
professional unit sales hitting 72.6 million, while education unit sales were
Growth in the last few years has been fueled by online retailers. BISG estimated
that sales of used books through online retailers rose 33% in 2004, to $609
million, while sales through bookstores rose 4.6%, to $1.57 billion. In the
trade/professional segment, online used book sales were $429 million last year,
while sales through bookstores were $115 million. Sales through other outlets,
such as yard sales, were $45 million.
Wait a minute… sales of used books at garage sales are netting $45 million? I think I’m going into the used book business. There’s also some scary news in the report for authors:
Used books are now considered mainstream and the industry is approaching a point
where consumers may choose to delay their purchases of a new book for a few
weeks–until a used copy becomes available.