Skip to main content

AAP Estimates US Book Publishing Industry Generated $26 Billion in Revenue Last Year

The Association of American Publishers released its annual StatShot estimate on Friday. You can buy the report from the AAP, or find the press release below.

There isn’t much detail in the public press release, so I won’t be adding much commentary.

However, as I have previously reported, the AAP’s annual estimates are not considered reliable, so you should take these figures with a grain of salt.

Press release:

The Association of American Publishers (AAP) issued its 2018 StatShot Annual Report today which found, among other things, that the U.S. book publishing industry generated an estimated $26.23 billion in net revenue for 2017, representing 2.72 billion units. All figures represent publishers’ net revenue from tracked categories (trade, higher education course materials, preK-12 instructional materials, professional books, and university press), in all formats, from all distribution channels. These are not retailer/consumer sales figures.

Publisher revenue for trade books (fiction, non-fiction and religious presses) were flat (0.3%) increasing by $45 million in 2017 over 2016. Since 2013, publisher revenue for trade books increased by around $820 million.

StatShot Annual is based on a unique methodology that combines annual data submitted by publishers, along with market modeling, to estimate the total size of the U.S. publishing industry. It is a different report than AAP’s monthly statistics reports, which track publisher revenue comparatively on a month-to-month basis. Below is a top-level summary of the data, but the entire report is available for purchase.

Publisher Revenue in Billions 2013 – 2017

Year Trade Higher Ed PreK-12 Professional University Press Other Total
2013 $15.13 $4.81 $3.84 $2.97 $0.30 $0.02 $27.07
2014 $15.43 $4.85 $4.27 $3.09 $0.30 $0.00 $27.96
2015 $15.82 $4.53 $4.11 $3.05 $0.29 $0.00 $27.80
2016 $15.90 $3.96 $3.73 $2.37 $0.28 $0.04 $26.27
2017 $15.95 $3.98 $3.62 $2.35 $0.29 $0.04 $26.23

Some highlights from the report:

  • Non-fiction books for adults is the category with the largest growth for publishers, with a 5.4% increase in publisher revenue from 2016 to 2017. Since 2013, revenue for the category has grown 28.4% to $6.18 billion. Nearly 150 million more adult non-fiction books were sold in 2017 than in 2013.
  • Publisher revenue for adult fiction declined slightly, by -1.2% to $4.38 billion. From 2013 to 2017, this category saw only one year of revenue growth (2015).
  • Both fiction and non-fiction books for children and young adults saw more units sold in 2017 than in 2016, up 1.1% and 4.4% respectively. Over the past five years (2013 – 2017) publisher revenue for children’s and YA fiction has grown by 11.3% to $3.67 billion and non-fiction has declined by -2.3% to $652 million.
  • Downloaded audio remained the fastest growing format, with 28.8% year-over-year growth from 2016 to 2017 and 146.2% growth over the past five years (2013 – 2017).
  • More than 1 billion paperback books were sold (more than any other format in 2017) comprising 36.9% of books sold in all categories.
  • For the first time publisher sales to physical and online retail channels were approximately equal at $7.6 billion and $7.5 billion respectively in 2017. Within online retail channels, 43.2% were print formats, 27% were eBooks, 16.3% were instructional materials, 10.5% were downloaded audio, and 3.1% were physical audio or a different format.
  • Revenue from higher education was flat (0.5%), revenue from pre-K-12 and professional books declined in 2017 by -2.9 and -0.7% respectively.

About StatShot Annual:

AAP member and non-member publishers provided data in response to a 2018 statistical survey that covers revenue and units by categories, channels, and formats. Survey participants in StatShot Annual may not be the same as those who participate in AAP’s monthly surveys. Since the annual survey does not include all known industry publishers, estimates are used for publishers who do not participate directly in data collection. These estimates are based on sales data included in company financial reports, trade and news media reporting, government filings, BooksinPrint, press releases, third party research services, and private sources.

StatShot Annual Distribution:

Participants receive a complimentary copy of the full StatShot Annual Report. Otherwise, the report is available for purchase here. For more information about the report, email Syreeta Swann at [email protected].

imag  by jon_a_ross on Flickr

Similar Articles


The Fault in Our Numbers « Three Percent December 25, 2018 um 8:58 pm

[…] that the number of book readers has an upper limit. But does that really track? According to this report, between 2013-2017 adult fiction only had one year of growth (2015), and was down 1.2% between 2016 […]

Write a Comment