Book Stores

Industry Profile Report

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

Industry Overview Current Conditions, Industry Structure, How Firms Operate, Industry Trends, Credit Underwriting & Risks, and Industry Forecast.

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

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

Industry Profile Excerpts

Industry Overview

The 2,479 book store firms 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.

Challenges of eBooks

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 $3.6 million annually.

    • The book store industry is comprised of 2,479 firms that operate 5,733 stores, employ 66,700 workers and generate $9 billion in annual revenue.
    • 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 per-student materials expenditure is about $90 per class or at least $200 per academic term, according to the National Association for College Stores (NACS).
                              Industry Forecast
                              Book Stores Industry Growth
                              Source: Vertical IQ and Inforum

                              Recent Developments

                              May 4, 2024 - Prices Increase
                              • Book stores increased prices slightly during 2023, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Prices increased even as sales decreased during much of the year, according to the US Census Bureau. Industry employment decreased moderately during the first half of 2023 before increasing to January levels by the end of the year, while average wages for nonsupervisory employees increased significantly during 2023, according to the BLS.
                              • Unit print sales at outlets that report to Circana BookScan decreased 3% year over year in Q1 2024. Unit sales were 15% higher than in the pre-pandemic period of Q1 2019, however. “The market is still very healthy compared to before the pandemic,” noted Kristen McLean, analyst and senior executive director at the Circana Entertainment Knowledge Group.
                              • Industry giant Barnes & Noble has plans to open more than 50 new stores in 2024. Company executives say that the firm is enjoying exceptionally strong sales in its existing stores and has been opening many new stores after closing over 100 during the past 15 years. Barnes & Noble opened more new bookstores in 2022 than it had during the whole decade from 2009 to 2019. The bookseller opened over 30 new bookstores in 2023.
                              • Consistent experiences from one store to the next, a key principle for most retailers, may backfire for book stores, according to James Daunt, who made Waterstones the largest book store chain in the UK and has brought about a turnaround at Barnes & Noble. Following that approach in book stores leads to an “inherently boring” experience for customers whose tastes vary based on the local community, according to Daunt. Uniform bookstores also leave curation, or the lack thereof, to publishers who pay for their titles to be placed on display tables. The Daunt model calls for turning over bookstore decisions to the managers and associates who engage daily with customers and share their love of reading. This approach means that experiences are tailored by the community.
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