Woe is me, cried the publisher!
The Association of American Publishers announced on Wednesday that publisher revenue was down 9.4% for the month of July, and down 5.8% year to date. The decline is largely the result of steep declines in sales of educational materials for both college and K-12, while at the same time most other segments of the industry have shown surprising resilience in the face of serious supply issues. (Whether that will remain the case as the impact of paper shortages moves down the supply chain is another matter.)
One bright point is that ebook sales have increased by 25% for the month of July,
eBook revenues were up 25.0% for the month as compared to July 2019 for a total of $103.7 million. On a year-to-date basis, eBooks were up 14.2%, coming in at $652.9 million for the first seven months of 2020. Notably, eBook revenues in the Children’s and YA category saw a 76.4% jump during the month, coming in at $11.6 million. On a year-to-date basis, eBook revenues in the Children’s and YA category were up 63.3% for the first seven months of the year, coming in at $73.2 million.
This is good news for some publishers, just not for those who have spent the past eleven years (since 2009, yes) doing their best to avoid selling ebooks. Those publishers have steadfastly refused to adapt to the market, and will soon be hoist by their own petard.
As Kris Rusch pointed out in her weekly column yesterday, publishers are only just beginning to feel the pain caused by supply chain disruptions. The situation will only get worse as the pandemic drags on, and the publishers who resisted selling ebooks to either consumers or libraries will bear the brunt of financial impact.