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    Final book sales down in Québec in 2020

    Notice of release

    Québec, August 26, 2021. – Final sales of new books by Québec retailers, publishers and book distributors totalled $577.5 million in 2020, down 3.1% from 2019 and 4.5% from 2016. The COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on the book market, but it is difficult to distinguish these effects from the downward trend in book sales observed over the past few years. These are the main findings from an analysis of statistics on book sales from the bulletin Optique culture No. 77 published today by the Observatoire de la culture et des communications of the Institut de la statistique du Québec.

    Sales remained stable at bookstores but increased at other retailers

    • After a drop in April 2020, there was a significant catch-up in retail sales between June and December 2020.
    • For 2020 as a whole, bookstore sales were down slightly, as they declined by 0.3% (-$1.3 million) from 2019.
    • Sales by big box stores and retailers such as department stores, pharmacies, newsstands, stationery stores, hardware stores, etc. increased by 7.2% (+$5.0 million).

    Sales by publishers and distributors were more affected by the pandemic

    • In 2020, final sales by distributors declined by 6.9% (-$1.1 million) from 2019, but their sales for the resale market increased by 5.4% (+$11.2 million).
    • For their part, final sales by publishers were down 18.8% (-$21.3 million), while their sales for the resale market without a distributor as intermediary rose by 3.2% (+$2.3 million).

    The pandemic benefited certain markets

    • Digital book sales increased by 69.3% (+$4.3 million).
    • Mail order and online sales to individuals by Québec bookstores more than doubled between 2019 and 2020.

    The Institut de la statistique du Québec produces, analyzes and disseminates official, objective and quality statistical information on various aspects of Québec society. It is responsible for conducting all statistical surveys of general interest. The relevance of its work makes it a strategic ally for decision makers and all those wishing to learn more about Québec.

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