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AAP Reports eBook, Total Revenues Down in First Quarter of 2016

4789173050_9ddc715c9d_oThe drought of industry sales stats ended today with the release of a new Statshot report. The Association of American Publishers announced on Monday that publisher revenues were down 3% for the month of Mach and 2.7% for the first quarter of 2016.

These stats are about 4 months overdue, making this report less a reflection of the latest trends than of the quarterly reports from the first part of the year (the ones where the major publishers don’t want to admit just how much their ebook sales have fallen.

As expected, ebooks were the worst performing format for the 1,200 publishers who submit their data to the AAP; ebook revenues fell by 22%, while paperback sales rose 6% and hardback sales fell 8.5%.


Press release:

Publishers’ revenues were down 3.0% in March 2016, and 2.7% for the first quarter of 2016 vs. the same timeframes in 2015.  Trade books declined 7.4% in the first quarter due to declines in the largest categories, Adult Books (-10.3%) and Childrens/YA (-2.1%). With the trade category down, the decline in eBooks was pronounced – down 21.4% for March and 21.8% year-over-year.


  • Publishers’ book sales for March 2016 were $501.8 million, down 3.0% from March 2015.  These numbers include sales for all tracked categories (Trade – fiction/non-fiction/religious, PreK-12 Instructional Materials, Higher Education Course Materials, Professional Publishing, and University Presses.)

o   For the first quarter of the year, sales were down 2.7% to $2.14 billion vs. the same three months in 2015.

  • Trade (consumer) books sales were $458.7 million in March 2016, down 5.6% from March 2015. This includes Childrens/YA Books, Adult Books and Religious Books.
  • In the first quarter of 2016, compared to the first quarter of 2015:

o   Trade sales were down 7.4% to $1.37 billion

o   Adult Books had $941.3 million in sales, down 10.3%

o   Childrens/YA Books had $320.5 million in sales, down 2.1%

o   Religious Presses had $105.9 million in sales, up by 5.8%

Trends for Trade by Format

  • In the first quarter 2016 vs. the first quarter 2015:

o   Paperback books grew 6.1%

o   Downloaded audio grew 35.3%

o   Hardback books declined 8.5%

o   eBooks were down 21.8%

Educational Materials and Professional Books

  • Educational Materials had gains of 8.6% for K-12 Instructional Materials and 20.3% for Higher Education Course Materials, in the first quarter of. 2016 vs the first three months of 2015. Though not as dramatic as Feb., both sectors saw gains in March, a lower volume month for sales.
  • Professional Publishing was down 24.4% in the first quarter of. 2016 vs the first three months of 2015. These categories include business, medical, law, scientific and technical books. University presses were down 4.6%.

About StatShot

Publisher net revenue is tracked monthly by the Association of American Publishers (AAP) and includes sales data from more than 1,200 publishers (#AAPStats). 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.

About AAP

The Association of American Publishers (AAP) represents about four hundred member organizations including major commercial, digital learning and education and professional publishers alongside independents, non-profits, university presses and scholarly societies. We represent the industry’s priorities on policy, legislative and regulatory issues regionally, nationally and worldwide.  These include the protection of intellectual property rights and worldwide copyright enforcement, digital and new technology issues, funding for education and libraries, tax and trade, censorship and literacy.   Find us online at or on twitter at @AmericanPublish.

image by sam_churchill

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Geoffrey Kidd September 20, 2016 um 6:31 pm

The Publishers raised prices on eBooks to ridiculous levels in order to feed their treeware cash cows. Is anybody surprised? Will anybody be surprised that this news will help the publishers go back to their "eBooks are just a passing fad." head-in-the-sand garbage?

Fjtorres September 20, 2016 um 6:37 pm

The reported decline from 2015 is on top of a similar decline in 2015 from 2014.

Darryl September 20, 2016 um 8:25 pm

Any year now its possible that the Publishers will extract their heads from the sand. But i’m not holding my breath.

Fjtorres September 20, 2016 um 9:47 pm

No rush.
They’re still running 10% margins.

Syn September 21, 2016 um 9:08 am

In the mean time, publishers keep placing a sign that says don’t buy ebooks from us, buy from indies.

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