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U.S. Book Sales Declined in 2011 Despite Rise in E-Books

The U.S. book market declined 2.5 percent in 2011 as sales of e-books, which are lower priced than printed works, more than doubled within the category that includes fiction and nonfiction.

Publishers generated $27.2 billion in book sales, down from $27.9 billion in 2010, according BookStats, an annual report produced by the Association of American Publishers and the Book Industry Study Group. Units sold rose 3.4 percent to 2.77 billion.

Sales of trade books -- that is, adult fiction, nonfiction, children’s books and others -- were little changed at almost $14 billion. E-books in the category more than doubled to $2.07 billion, while print remained dominant, with $11.1 billion.

The industry has lost revenue because of the proliferation of e-books, a niche led by Inc. Seeking more control over the pricing of digital editions, publishers have signed deals with Apple Inc., allowing them to set prices. The Justice Department said the publishers colluded with Apple in those deals, and three publishers recently settled.

The children and young-adult category, which includes popular series such as “The Hunger Games,” published by Scholastic Corp., had the largest gain, growing 12 percent to $2.78 billion, according to the report.

As the bankruptcy of Borders Group Inc. hurt sales, retail outlets’ total fell 13 percent to $8.59 billion last year. Stores remained the largest channel.

Online retail grew 35 percent to $5.04 billion. Revenue for publishers selling directly to consumers through websites almost doubled to $1.11 billion, according to the report.

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