AAP Reports eBook Sales Down 7.5% in the First Quarter of 2015

4510703748_45e674f68f_bThe Association of American Publishers confirmed today that the major publishers are feeling the first stings of the mad rush back to agency pricing.

Trade sales (for the 1,200 odd publishers participating in the monthly report) were down 2.2% from the same quarter in 2014, to $1.49 billion. The adult segment rose 3.4%, to $1.05 billion, while the YA/kids segment dropped 15.9%, to $321.1 million. The religious segment dropped 5.5%, to $124.4 million.

In terms of formats, hardback sales dropped 6.7%, to $463 million. Paperback sales rose 8.6%, to $443 million, and ebooks fell 7.5%, to $374 million. Downloaded audiobooks continued its growth streak, with a 33.6% increase over the same quarter last year.  Physical audio, mass market, paperback and board book formats all experienced growth this quarter as well.

aap logoThe AAP also reported today that total publisher revenues were down 6.6% in the first quarter at $2.22 billion, compared to $2.38 billion for the first quarter in 2014. That figure includes sales for all tracked categories (Trade, K-12 Instructional Materials, Higher Education Course Materials, Professional Publishing, and University Presses).

image  by miss.libertine

 

About Nate Hoffelder (11594 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader:"I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

8 Comments on AAP Reports eBook Sales Down 7.5% in the First Quarter of 2015

  1. Nate, you wrote: “The Association of American Publishers confirmed today that the major publishers are feeling the first stings of the mad rush back to agency pricing.” I’m wondering how you KNOW as fact that the cause is the agency pricing as opposed to people finding they prefer print, do not find recent titles to be must-read titles, or any one of myriad other reasons.

    I ask because I know that my ebook purchases have declined to almost zero but agency pricing had nothing to do with it. The novelty of ebooks has worn off, I am finding I prefer the print version of most books I read, and I am greatly displeased (which was a major reason for the drop in my case) by B&N’s making it difficult/impossible to download purchased ebooks, among other reasons. Yet I am spending more money on books than ever — just not ebooks.

    So, I’d like to know how you know as fact that the cause for the decline is agency rather than other causes that have coincided with the reintroduction of agency.

    Also, has any study been done on ebook pricing before and after this latest round of agency pricing? I’ve not noticed much of a price change (actually almost none) on the price of the ebook versions of the books I buy/have recently bought. There has been some in a few cases, but most have remained the same price, and the new price has been cents, not dollars, more than the old price.

    • Richard – there’s a very simple way to see if volume is up or down in the Kindle Store, which is around two thirds of the US e-book market. How many sales does it take to hit Rank X? Self-publishers watch this all the time. I haven’t seen any reports of volume being down. The picture is muddier now with KU2, but the above figures cover Q1 2015 when store volume was up, not down.

    • Of the 1200 publishers reporting, the bulk of the revenue is from the five largest publishers. It’s not unreasonable to call the reporting a “BPH thermometer.” If your experience is representative of the whole, print should have increased in sales relative to e-books. However, sales for print shifted from hardcover to softcover in nearly equivalent dollar amounts. That suggests price sensitivity. The extraordinary increase in audio sales seems to suggest price sensitivity as well. (From Audible, one credit still purchases one audiobook, even if the “cover” price has increased.) Overall, revenue from the first quarter 2014 and the first quarter 2015 shows a 6.6% decline YOY.

      The question was “Is this attributable to agency pricing?” Four of five of the BPHs were on agency for at least part of the first quarter. The quarter just ended had four of five BPHs on agency for the entire period. If the trend continues on the next report, then it’s more likely Nate is correct.

  2. The breakdown shows slight movement towards the cheaper forms of print– trade and mass market paperback–with declines in hardcover and corporate ebooks.
    Combine it with the growth of KU and the recent drama at Scribd and it becomes hard to buy the ebooks fad storyline and easier to buy into the exceeding-the-market’s tolerance narrative.

    Occam’s razor says we’re looking at price sensitivity at work.

  3. Most of my e-book buying was bundles. Especially those from Baen, but they have not been appealing lately. Too many duplicates and books that don’t interest me. Humble bundle has been slacking too with mostly comic book bundles which are horrible in electronic format unless you have a 13″ + tablet. I’ve probably bought 3 to 4 times more ebooks last year, by this time of the year, than I did this year.

  4. Nice to read a straight forward post about this report from the AAP, and to have some intelligent discussion, especially after spending too much time commenting on Goodereader.com’s coverage. I am not sure why that blog is not called Badereader.com since the blogger himself seems to hate ereading, but I am never going back on there.

    • Oh, bleah. Your comment inspired me to go read their post. That’s 90 seconds I’ll never get back.

      • When I commented on some of the logical shortcomings in the post, Mike said that “indie books do not exist” because they do not have ISBNs, that “indie sales data does not matter”, and that “indie authors are slime.”

        That pretty much finished me for reading anything he has to say in the future.

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  1. USA : les ventes d’ebooks en baisse de 7,5%

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