Each week HipHopDX runs a list of the previous week’s top-selling albums [click to read]. While artists and record labels will always use album sales as the barometer of their efforts behind the scenes, the early figures for 2008 prove what many analysts predicted all along: fewer people are buying physical albums. June serves as the midpoint for the calendar year, and so far Nielsen SoundScan shows physical album sales at 206.4 million units. That number is an 11 percent drop from last year’s figures.

Meanwhile digital sales continue to soar. Digital album sales have increased by 34 percent, and digital singles have shown a 30 percent increase to 31.6 million units as proven by Flo Rida‘s record-setting January. The T-Pain assisted single “Low” set a digital sales record by selling 470,000 copies in a single week.

Ironically, while Hip Hop sales have usually taken the worst beating in the recent four-year, industry wide sales slump, Lil Wayne‘s Tha Carter III has been the year’s best-selling album. Tha Carter III boasts sales of 1.5 million despite being heavily pirated on the Internet. Mariah Carey‘s E=MC2 (1.1 million) and Jack Johnson‘s Sleep Through the Static (1.2 million) are the only other albums to sell over 1 million copies. All three albums are also distributed by Universal Music Group, making UMG the leader among the four major labels. Coldplay’s Viva La Vida (971,000) and Spirit (830,000) by Leona Lewis round out SoundScan’s list of the year’s five best-selling albums.