For the first time in the history of the Nielsen SoundScan's tracking (starting in 1991), old albums have begun to sell more than new albums. According to MSN Music, in the first half of 2012, albums released more than 18 months ago sold 76.6 million copies compared to 73.9 million of more current albums sold.
One of the best selling of the over-18-month-old "catalog" albums is Taylor Swift's 'Speak Now' which was released in October of 2010. According to Wikipedia, as of 2012 (date unknown), the album has sold 4,005,000 copies in the United States.
So why are so many old albums being sold compared to new ones? According to Nielsen analyst David Bakula, it probably has to do with price. "I really, truly do believe that there probably is a consumer that is buying music here that wasn't buying music in the past," Bakula told the OC Weekly.
When a new CD runs $13-$18 and an older one runs $5.99 and $10.99, I can definitely see the appeal of going with a classic.