In the first quarter of this year, U.S. consumers bought 724 million units of books, music and movies, up 6.8% from the 678 million units that were acquired in the first quarter of 2007 according to Nielsen SoundScan's Rob Sisco and Chris Muratore. They presented the figures during a state of the industry seminar on the opening day of the National Assn. of Recording Merchandisers annual convention in San Francisco, Calif.

Of the total this year, music accounted for 427 million units while home video scanned 109 million units and books 186 million copies.

That continues a trend begun last year when digital downloads took off. In 2007, U.S. consumers chose to buy music more often than they did books or video. But most of the time, they chose to buy a track download instead of an album.

In 2007, music accounted for nearly 1.6 billion units, or 57% of the 2.8 billion units of books, music and home video acquired last year.

Book scans generated the second-highest total with 756 million copies being scanned, while home video generated 420 million copies being scanned. Overall those entertainment software categories increased by 16.6% from the 2006 combined total of 2.4 billion units.

Last year, the U.S. music industry issued nearly 80,000 new albums, of which 54,500 were in the physical format while 25,200 were in the digital format only. That represents a 5.2% increase over the 75,744 issued in 2006.

Of the nearly 80,000 releases issued in 2007, roughly 60 titles accounted for 30% of all new release sales, which totaled 70 million units. Meanwhile, nearly 62,000 new releases each sold less than 100 units.

Of the total new releases, nearly 11,000 albums were issued by the majors. Those albums sold nearly 151 million units, or 80% of total sales, which were about 180 million units last year.

In moving to downloads, Muratore pointed out that while 4 million different tracks were downloaded last year, only 303 tracks scanned over 250,000 units while nearly 3.5 million tracks sold less than 100 units.