AAP Reports Hell Hath Frozen Over: Publisher eBook Revenue Up in May 2017

AAP Reports Hell Hath Frozen Over: Publisher eBook Revenue Up in May 2017 AAP ebook sales

I hope you're sitting down, because the latest month Statshot report from the Association of American Publishers is so surprising that it could knock you off your feet.

The AAP revealed on Thursday that publisher ebook revenue was up 2.4% for the month of May.  eBook revenues were still down 3.3% for the year, however, making the new stat more of a quirk or anomaly rather than the beginning of a trend.

Revenues from sales of hardback books and audiobooks were also up in the first five months of the year (6,7%, 32.5%) while paperback sales dropped 3.9%.

In terms of categories, YA revenues were effectively flat while adult revenues increased 1.6% and revenues at religious presses increased 4.1%.

total trade revenues increased 1.4%, to $2.6 billion, in the first five months of the year.

Press release:

Book revenues for trade book publishers were up 2.4% in May 2017. The growth was attributed to increased eBook sales for Adult Books, up 3.4% over May 2016. This is the first monthly increase over prior year sales since March 2015, according to the StatShot Monthly report from the Association of American Publishers (AAP).

The increase in eBook sales was one element of a growth month for book publishers. Revenues for book publishers were up by $50.7 million (4.6%) in May 2017 over May 2016. Revenues from Jan. – May 2017 were $4.25 billion, gaining $175.7 million (4.3%) compared to the same timeframe in 2016.

With the exception of Professional Books, all reported categories saw sales increases for the month. The categories with the greatest growth in May were Childrens & Young Adult Books (11.8%) and University Presses (7.3%). With these and other gains, no categories are reporting revenue loss year-to-date.

StatShot tracks publisher revenue on a monthly basis for about 1,200 publishers of trade (fiction/non-fiction/religious), PreK-12 instructional materials, higher education course materials, university presses and professional books.

Trade Books

Revenue for Trade Books was up 5.0% in May 2017 compared to last May, with gains in Adult Books, Childrens/YA Books and Religious Presses. For the year-to-date vs the same time in 2016, revenues for trade books increased by $36 million (1.4%) to reach $2.64 billion.

Total Trade Net Revenue by Category (in millions)*

Jan. - May 2017Jan. - May 2016Percent Change
Adult Fiction/Non-Fiction








Religious Presses




Total Trade




Trade Book Formats

Downloaded audio had another strong month, up 43.4% in May 2017 vs. May 2016 and 32.5% from Jan. - May 2017 vs. the same five months in 2016. Revenue for print books was also up this May, with growth in hardback, paperback, mass market and board books. Year-to-date, hardback and board books had revenue gains. While eBooks saw growth in May, the overall format remains down year-to-date.

Total Trade Net Revenue by Format (in millions)*

Jan. - May 2017Jan. - May 2016Percent Change








Paperback & Mass Market




Downloaded Audio




Other (physical audio, board book)




Education and Scholarly Publishing

Higher Education and PreK-12 publishers saw revenue growth during May, up 3.1% and 5.5% respectively compared to the prior year. Revenue in both categories was also up year-to-date, growing 22.6% and 1.8% respectively.

Professional Books was the only category to see a decline in May, down 1.9% compared to May 2016. However, year-to-date revenues remain up by 2.7%. University Press revenues were up 0.9% compared to the first five months of 2016.

Note: * All figures represent publishers’ net revenue from all distribution channels (these are not retailer/consumer sales figures).

image by pedrik

About Nate Hoffelder (9908 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."

1 Comment on AAP Reports Hell Hath Frozen Over: Publisher eBook Revenue Up in May 2017

  1. Looks like downloaded audio is propping them up.

    Shouldn’t we be seeing an AE report about how great/poorly ebooks and the like are doing? 😉

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