What was the market for consumer books in the United States between 1985 and 1995? What were the Domestic Consumer Expenditures for books during those years? What market problems did consumer books confront? Who purchased books? What types of consumer books did they select? When did they buy them? Where did they shop for them? Why did individuals select a particular title of book category?
In this article, the author evaluates statistical data about net book unit and dollar sales and presents the theory that the U.S. consumer book industry is involved in a “zero sum game,” a hotly contested marketing campaign to increase (or at the least maintain) market share against: (1) the incursions of other mass media formats (i.e., television, radio, videos, film, recorded music, the Internet, etc.); (2) competing book categories; (3) sharp increases in periodical purchases by libraries that could cut deeply into this sizable and traditional market for books; and (4) the emerging but increasingly popular electronic publishing formats, including CD-ROMs, online services, and electronic texts (or E-Texts) of books.