You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Wed, May 1, 2013 : noon

Physical book sales steady in 2012 led by strong fiction and children's book gains

By Ben Freed

As one of America’s most well-read cities and the birthplace of an out-of-business big-box bookstore, Ann Arbor has a special connection to book world.

The opening of a new independent bookseller downtown coincided with news from the Publisher’s Association that book sales rose 4 percent in 2012, according to a report from Time.


A customer browses books in the newly opened Literati Bookstore on Monday, April 1.

Daniel Brenner |

While the growth primarily came from digital book sales, fiction books showed a 3 percent increase in physical distribution and more in-hand children’s books were sold than in 2011. According to the Time article, much of that growth can be attributed to the fact that children’s books often come in irregular shapes and sizes and are more durable than e-readers or tablets.

According to the story, the biggest winners were e-book and digital fiction sales, both up more than 130 percent. Some in Ann Arbor might disagree with the supposed “biggest loser,” brick-and-mortar bookstores, targeted because more and more sales of digital and physical books are happening online.

Ben Freed covers business for You can sign up here to receive Business Review updates every week. Reach out to Ben at 734-623-2528 or email him at Follow him on twitter @BFreedinA2


Jenn McKee

Thu, May 2, 2013 : 6:02 p.m.

I don't think the children's book market is so much about the shape or durability of the books, but about the fact that a lot of parents are wary about putting their kids in front of screens a lot at a young age - when those kids are going to be in front of screens for much of their lives - in order to read to them. I've downloaded a couple of picture books for my 4 year old on my Kindle, but way more often, we'll go to the library to get books or buy a few here and there via her preschool's book order brochures. There's just something much more intimate and warm about reading a child a real book with real pages. (I wrote a column about this topic at

Michigan Reader

Wed, May 1, 2013 : 9:26 p.m.

There's an awful lot of browsing at the brick and mortar stores, I should know I am one of the people who do this. I wonder what the sales would be if every browser bought the titles they were reading.