AAP Reports Publisher Revenues Flat Through September 2017


The Association of American Publishers announced on Wednesday that publisher revenues dropped by half a percent in the first three quarters of 2017 compared to the previous year.

Trade revenues fell 1% due to declines in kids/YA (-3.5%) and religious press (-3.3%) categories. Hardback revenues rose a fraction of a percent, to $1.8 billion, while paperback and ebook revenues fell 3% and 5.5%, respectively.

Press Release

For the first three quarters of the year publishers’ revenues (sales to bookstores, wholesalers, direct to consumer, online retailers, etc.) were flat (-0.5%) compared to the same period in 2016. Trade books saw slightly declining revenues (-0.9%) for the year-to-date.

The book publishing industry’s largest category (31.1% of the market) Adult Books – was flat (+0.4%) for the year-to-date. Conversely, both Children’s and Young Adult Books (-3.5%) and Religious Presses (-3.3%) saw declines.

The categories with the most growth were those with small shares of the overall book publishing market -Professional Books (+6.2%) and University Presses (+4.6%).

Total Trade Net Revenue by Category for First Three Quarters of 2017 (in millions)*

Jan. – Sept. 2017 Jan. – Sept. 2016 Percent Change
Adult Fiction/Non-Fiction








Religious Presses




Total Trade




Trade Book Formats

Downloaded audio has been growing by double digits over the past three years, and the first three quarters of 2017 reflect continued growth, with publisher revenue up +26.2%. Notably, with revenues of $244.8 million for Jan. – Sept. 2017, downloaded audio is two months ahead in revenue that in was in 2016 (revenue for Jan. – Nov. 2016 was $244.1 million.)

Publisher revenues for eBooks generally decline, with publisher revenues down -5.5% for the first three quarters of 2017 vs 2016. One exception is Religious Presses, which has seen +9.5% growth in eBooks for the first nine months of 2017 compared to 2016, with revenues climbing from $25.9 million to $28.4 million.

Nine Month Total Trade Net Revenue by Format (in millions)

Jan. – Sept. 2017 Jan. – Sept. 2016 Percent Change








Paperback & Mass Market




Downloaded Audio




Other (physical audio, board book)




Education and Scholarly Publishing

The education sector saw mixed results, with +2.0% growth in Higher Education Course Materials and a 3.8% decline in PreK-12 Instructional Materials year-to-date.

Revenues for Professional Books increased by +6.2% and University Presses increased +4.6% in from Jan. – Sept. 2017 compared to the same time in 2016. Two items of note – revenue growth in medical books was up +14.8% year-to-date and University eBooks had a strong September contributing to a +3.0% year-to-date revenue growth.

About StatShot

Publisher net revenue is tracked monthly by the Association of American Publishers (AAP) and includes sales data from about 1,200 publishers. Figures represent publishers’ net revenue for the U.S. (i.e. what publishers sell to bookstores, direct to consumer, online venues, etc.), and are not retailer/consumer sales figures.

image  by ReneS

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 Comment

  1. […] AAP Reports Publisher Revenues Flat Through September 2017 The Digital Reader The Association of American Publishers announced that revenues dropped in the first three quarters of 2017 compared to 2016. Among the decreased revenues, paperback fell 3% and ebook revenues by 5.5%. […]


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