AAP: Trade Book Sales Down a Percent, eBook Sales Down 17% Through October 2016

Some segments of the legacy book publishing had good news in the AAP’s latest month report, but overall the news was bleak.

Trade book revenues were down 7.5% in the month of October, and as a result the industry revenues (for the 1,200 odd publishers which submit data to the AAP) were down 0.7%.

Surprisingly, Adult ebook revenues were up for the month (2.6%) but the format as a whole was still down 17.2% for the year to date.


Press release:

Religious presses and Childrens & Young Adult Books Publishers’ revenues increased for Oct. 2016 and for the year to-date. Despite those increases, the challenging month for adult books and educational materials resulted in a decline in overall publisher revenues of 9.3% in Oct. 2016 and 6.4% for the year-to-date in all tracked categories (Trade – fiction/non-fiction/religious, PreK-12 Instructional Materials, Higher Education Course Materials, Professional Publishing, and University Presses).

Trade book revenues fell 7.5% in Oct. 2016 vs Oct. 2015, and were down 0.7% year-to-date. The cause of the decline was Adult Books, which was down 13.1% for the month. Interestingly, after 19 months of decline, Adult eBooks grew 2.6% in Oct. 2016 vs Oct. 2015; eBooks, however, remain down for the year-to-date in all trade categories – Adult Books, Childrens/YA and Religious Presses.

Publisher revenues include sales to bookstores, wholesalers, direct to consumer, online retailers, etc.

Trade Books

From Jan. – Oct. 2016 vs. the same time in 2015 trade books were down 0.7% year-to-date.

  • By Category:
    • Adult Books were down 3.2% to $3.9 billion
    • Childrens & YA Books were up 4.4% to $1.4 billion
    • Religious Presses are up 7.0% to $401.8 million
  • By Format
    • Paperback books grew 6.8% to $1.8 billion
    • Hardback books were flat at 0.2% $2.1 billion
    • Downloaded audio grew 27.3% to $219.5 million
    • eBooks were down 17.2% to $971.4 million

Educational Materials and Professional Books

  • Educational Materials had a revenue loss of 8.6% for PreK-12 Instructional Materials and 11.4% for Higher Education Course Materials from Jan. – Oct. 2016 vs. the same time in 2015
  • Professional Publishing was down 21.5% From Jan. – Oct. 2016 vs. the same time in 2015. These categories include business, medical, law, scientific and technical books. University presses were down 3.8% for the 10 months.


image by investmentzen

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills weekly. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.


  1. BDR24 March, 2017

    The bottom-line is that those numbers are specific to only one segment of ebook sales and we don’t really know what’s happening in each category overall. The Data Guy offers more insight, maybe, but his work seems as obtuse and unclear as this data is incomplete.

    Amazon could probably clear things up, a lot, by releasing their sales but until we get better data all we (seem) to know is that the Big 5 really suck at marketing ebooks. To the point, in fact, where you have to say that it’s deliberate.

  2. […] AAP: Trade Book Sales Down a Percent, eBook Sales Down 17% Through October 2016 (The Digital Reader) […]


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