In the continuing escalation in his attack on Amazon, President Donald Trump issued an executive order yesterday for the establishment of a federal task force, led by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin or his designee, to investigate the finances of the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), which has lost more than $65 billion during the past 11 consecutive fiscal years. The special commission is expected to submit a report on its findings and recommendations within 120 days. Some pundits argue that President Trump's tweets against the online retail juggernaut are politically driven, given that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos also owns the Washington Post, which has been highly critical of Trump and his policies. Trump's ongoing public statements and tweets against Amazon, and how the online retailer is destroying the traditional brick-and-mortar retail industry, have negatively impacted Amazon's stock price. The main drag on USPS finances, in reality, has been the mandate that it pre-fund its retiree health care obligations to the tune of more than $38 billion. For the first time, last year the Postal Service missed payments it owes to the federal retirement system, for a combined total of $6.9 billion. Click Read More below for additional information.
While holiday unit sales of print books got off to a slow start Thanksgiving weekend, they ended on a strong note. Print unit sales increased 7% in the week ended Dec. 24, 2017, over the comparable week in 2016 at outlets that report to NPD BookScan. The gain was driven by the retail and club channel, where unit sales were 8% higher than the week ended Dec. 25, 2016. Sales through mass merchandisers fell 2% in the week compared to 2016.
Juvenile nonfiction had the strongest gain among the major book segments, with units up 19% over 2016. Rob Elliott’s Laugh-Out-Loud Jokes for Kids was #1 on the category bestseller list, selling more than 33,000 copies. Star Wars: The Last Jedi: The Visual Dictionary by Pablo Hidalgo moved up the list in the week, selling almost 25,000 copies, which put it in fourth place on the segment bestseller list.
Unit sales of print books rose 7% over 2016 in the adult nonfiction category, where Rupi Kaur had a good week. Her newest book, The Sun and Her Flowers, was the top seller in the category, selling almost 76,000 copies, while her first book, Milk and Honey, was in fifth place, selling over 56,000 copies.
The juvenile fiction segment also had a 7% rise in sales over 2016, where the latest Wimpy Kid title, The Getaway by Jeff Kinney, maintained its hold as the bestselling book of the Christmas season, selling over 124,000 copies in the week. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle had a big sales gain in the week thanks to its upcoming film adaptation, moving the title to 5th place on the category bestseller list with 30,000 copies sold.
The adult fiction category had a 1% unit gain in the week where John Grisham’s Rooster Bar and Dan Brown’s Origin remained #1 and #2 on the category list, selling almost 90,000 copies and more than 87,000 copies, respectively, in the week.