Book sales in Canada rose nearly seven per cent in the first quarter, even higher than during the holiday shopping season, proving the product is “a staple, not a luxury,” according to an industry organization.
BookNet Canada, which tracks sales across the country, said Monday the volume of books sold was up 6.7 per cent in the first quarter compared to last year.
The value of books sold jumped five per cent in the January-March period.
That compared to a six per cent increase in volume and two per cent increase year-over-year in the October-December period.
“This was when the other shoe was supposed to drop, after Christmas when gift sales were no longer a factor. But in the face of declining book sales in the U.S and U.K., we are still seeing steady performance in English-language Canadian book sales in Q1,” BookNet Canada CEO Michael Tamblyn.
“For the time being, Canadians continue to view books as a staple, not a luxury.”
Carolyn Wood, executive director of the Association of Canadian Publishers, said the book business has a history of being “recession resistant.”
“For one thing it’s a fairly low price point item. It’s not like buying a car or a new house or snowmobile or designer anything,” Wood said.
“Books are manageable. There is something for every budget.”
Wood also said reading is a “lifelong and deeply ingrained practice and something people are reluctant to cut.”
She also said some of the increase in book sales is likely coming from more people going back to school after losing their jobs in a recession.
Barb Minett, co-owner of Guelph-Ont.-based the Bookshelf, said sales have risen close to the national figure at her independent store, which also includes a cinema and bar.
“We’ve had a great response in the last three months,” Minett said.
She said some of the most popular books sold so far this year have been those tied to movies shown at her theatre, including The Reader and Revolutionary Road. The bookstore has also brought in a number of authors for readings and book signings, which have been well-attended.
Children’s books have also been big sellers in the store, she said.