The US print market has plunged 16% year on year in the first quarter of 2012, despite a record-breaking performance by Hunger Games author Suzanne Collins.
Just under 136 million books were sold through Nielsen BookScan US in the 13 weeks to 1st April 2012. This is a fall from 162 million books sold over the same period in 2011—the drop driven by the continued migration to digital and the loss of high-street retailers such as Borders.
The adult fiction market was hardest hit, losing 26% year on year in volume sales—falling from 40.9 million units sold in 2011 to 29.8 million units so far in 2012. Adult non-fiction had a less dramatic decline, dropping 16% in volume to 57.4 million.
The juvenile market bucked the trend, however, led by Collins. Overall, children's sales increased by 500,000 units, selling 41.7 million copies in the first quarter.
Collins has sold an astonishing 5.8 million copies of her various Hunger Games titles to late in 2012. Different editions of her trilogy hold the top six spots in the overall US chart for the first quarter—the first time an author has accomplished that feat since BookScan US records began (see chart below). In 13 weeks, she has already bested her sales for the entirety of 2011 (just over 4 million copies). The hardcover edition of Catching Fire, the second in the series, has been in BookScan US' top 100 for 98 weeks; the trade paperback for The Hunger Games for 94 weeks.
Dr Seuss is another children's author enjoying a good start to 2012. His The Lorax is the ninth-bestselling book of the year to date, while he has a further seven titles in the top 100.
"Mummy-porn" sensation E L James is the only adult fiction title to hit the overall US top 10 with Fifty Shades of Grey, and there are only three other adult novels in the top 20: Vince Flynn's American Sniper (William Morrow), Stieg Larsson's The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest (Vintage) and Kathryn Stockett's The Help (Berkely).