Reflecting another full month when much of the country was under stay-at-home orders or business was otherwise limited because of the Covid-19 pandemic, total net book sales in September in the U.S. rose 14.6%, to $1.77 billion, compared to September 2019, representing sales of 1,354 publishers and distributed clients as reported to the Association of American Publishers. It was the second rise in sales this year since February, following August's 0.3% gain. For the year to date, total net book sales were down 1.8%, to $11.2 billion.
Again, as happened in July and August, trade sales rose significantly and grew faster than non-trade categories. Trade sales were up 20.9%, to $939.9 million, compared to September 2019. And for the first nine months of the year, trade sales are up 7.8%, to $5.9 billion.
By format, categories with sales gains of at least 20% in September compared to September 2019 included trade mass market (88.1%), trade board books (35.2%), trade hardcovers (24.8%), trade paperbacks (21.6%) and all e-books (22.1%). Downloaded audio sales rose 15%, to nearly $60 million, continuing its record of growth every month since 2012, and sales for the year to date are nearly half a billion dollars.
Sales by category in September 2020 compared to September 2019: