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Book sales down “dramatically” in Q1 of 2011

The bad news for booksellers just seems to keep coming. Today, Publishers Weekly reports that Canadian book sales “dropped dramatically” in the first quarter of 2011 according to figures released by BookNet Canada. The market was depressed in both units sold (down 10.9 per cent) and dollar sales (10.8 per cent), and numbers were down across all categories of physical books, with fiction taking the biggest hit (16.9 per cent in units and 15.4 per cent in dollars).

From PW:

BookNet CEO Noah Genner attributed the drop to a combination of factors, including the sale of digital books, tough economic conditions and the lack of the type of blockbuster hits that have buoyed sales in recent years. There are some books doing well, but there hasn’t been anything of the volume that we’ve seen in the last few years like with Twilight, Stieg Larsson and [Harry] Potter before that. And there is definitely some portion of that going to e-books.

A BookNet Canada press release explains how they arrived at what can only be considered dismal figures for booksellers:

All figures for this report have been drawn from BookNet Canada’s national book sales tracking system, BNC SalesData, using the year-over-year sales from a fixed panel of 665 retail locations from across the country.

We maintain this 665-store subset of our 1,600 reporting stores, also known as a ring fence, which includes only stores that have been contributing data since [2006-07]. These are the only stores we look at for year-over-year comparisons. Any stores that have been added since 2007 are excluded from year-over-year calculations. This means that the addition of new stores in the past two years is not a factor in any reported change in market performance.