Book Stores

Industry Profile Report

Dive Deep into the industry with a 25+ page industry report (pdf format) including the following chapters

Industry Overview Industry Structure, How Firms Opertate, Industry Trends, Credit Underwriting & Risks, and Industry Forecast.

Call Preparation Quarterly Insight, Call Prep Questions, Industry Terms, and Weblinks.

Financial Insights Working Capital, Capital Financing, Business Valuation, and Financial Benchmarks.

Industry Profile Excerpts

Industry Overview

The 2,500 book stores in the US primarily sell books, magazines, and other types of reading materials. Major revenue categories include trade books; text books; CDs, records, and related audio products; religious books; mass market paperbacks; and magazines and newspapers. Book stores also sell meals, snacks, non-alcoholic beverages, souvenirs, novelty items, and stationery products. The industry is concentrated; the top four companies account for 69% of industry revenue.


Electronic books and their proprietary formats have been a challenge for independent book stores.

Competition from Alternative Sources

Book stores compete with a variety of alternative sources, including online retailers, traditional retailers, electronic distributors, publishers, and libraries.

Industry size & Structure

The average independent book store operates out of a single location, employs 10-11 workers and generates $1 million annually.

    • The book store industry
    • The industry is concentrated; the top four companies account for 69% of industry revenue.
    • Large companies include Barnes & Noble, Follett Corporation, Books-a-Million, and Family Christian Stores.
    • The average college student spent $456 on course materials in Spring 2021 and 78% of students bought from college book stores, according to OnCampus Research and the National Association for College Stores (NACS).
                              Industry Forecast
                              Book Stores Industry Growth
                              Source: Vertical IQ and Inforum

                              Coronavirus Update

                              May 10, 2022 - Physical Store Sales Led Growth In 2021
                              • Sales at physical stores grew faster than e-commerce sales in 2021, according to a New York Times analysis of US Department of Commerce retail sales data. Americans spent 18% more year over year in 2021 on food, cars, furniture, electronics, and other retail products. Online retail sales increased by 14%. The difference indicates that e-commerce lost ground last year to brick-and-mortar stores.
                              • BookTok, a community on social media platform TikTok that is based around the #BookTok hashtag, is being followed with interest by authors, book stores, and book publishers. BookTok primarily features videos made by avid readers. Authors using BookTok, including romance writer Colleen Hoover, are using BookTok to promote their books, and book stores are setting up BookTok displays featuring books that are widely cited on BookTok. “These ‘snapshot’ visual trailers are making books cinematic in a way that publishers have been trying to do with marketing book trailers for a really long time. But the way TikTok users are creating imagery inspired by what they are reading is so simple, and so clever. It’s that thing of bringing the pages to life, showing what you get from a book beyond words,” said Kat McKenna, a marketing and brand consultant specializing in children’s and young adult books.
                              • An Institute for Supply Management (ISM) barometer of business conditions at service-style companies such as retailers and restaurants decreased 1.2 points in April to 57.1% and signaled that labor and supply shortages as well as high inflation are hurting the economy. Results over 50% are viewed as positive for the economy and anything over 55% is considered exceptional. Experts say that demand is not the issue — businesses still have more than they can handle. Ongoing shortages of labor and supplies, high energy prices, and the worst bout of inflation in 40 years are the biggest hurdles. Service-oriented companies have generally fared worse during major viral outbreaks like the coronavirus pandemic according to the ISM. Their workers deal directly with customers and their businesses are more affected by government restrictions.
                              • Americans polled by Gallup said that they read an average of 12.6 books during 2021, a smaller number than Gallup has measured in any prior survey dating back to 1990. US adults are reading roughly two or three fewer books per year than they did between 2001 and 2016. The decline in book reading is mostly a function of how many books readers are reading, as opposed to fewer Americans reading any books. The 17% of US adults who say they did not read any books in the past year is similar to the 16% to 18% measured in 2002 to 2016 surveys, though it is higher than in the 1999 to 2001 polls. In 2020, a few months into the COVID-19 pandemic, when many Americans were still reluctant to leave their homes, Gallup found 6% of US adults naming reading as their favorite way to spend an evening, down from 12% in 2016.
                              • Sales at sporting goods, hobby, musical instrument, and book stores increased 3.2% month over month on an adjusted basis in March but decreased 5.7% year over year during the period, according to the US Department of Commerce. The sales data measures dollars spent at US businesses, so the increase partly reflects inflation in the cost of everyday products from food to gasoline. Consumer prices are increasing at the fastest pace in years, a phenomenon largely attributed to the uneven reopening of the global economy.
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