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AAP Reports eBook, Trade Revenues Down in First Half of 2016


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The latest stats from the Association of American Publishers show that the Big Five publishers' ebook revenues continue to decline.

Overall revenues were down 3.4% in the first half of the year, and more specifically trade revenues were down 1.1%.

In that segment, adult book revenues declined 2.8%, while religious presses and kids books each rose 10.4% and just under one percent, respectively.

In terms of formats, revenues from hardback sales grew one percent while paperback sales rose by 8.8% and sales of audiobooks increased by 32.3%.

All that good news came to naught, though, thanks to ebook revenues.

According to the AAP, publishers' ebook revenues fell by 20%, to $579.5 million.

Here’s the press release:

aap logoPublishers’ revenues (sales to bookstores, wholesalers, direct to consumer, online retailers, etc.) were down 3.4% for the first half of 2016 vs. the same period in 2015. The greatest percentage gains from the first half of the year came from Religious Presses, up 10.4%.

While revenue for Trade Books grew 6.7% in June, the gains were not enough to counter declines from earlier in the year, and the overall category declined 1.1% in the first half of 2016.

“After a tough first quarter – with trade sales down 7.4% from the prior year – second quarter sales have bounced back with 4.6% growth. Sales of adult, children’s and religious books all increased in the second quarter due to a mix of factors including movie tie-ins, a diversity of titles from small and midsize presses, and religious presses recovering from a tough 2015,” said Tom Allen President and CEO of AAP.


  • For the first half of the year, sales in all tracked categories were down 3.4% to $5.37 billion vs. the same six months in 2015. Tracked categories include: Trade – fiction/non-fiction/religious, PreK-12 Instructional Materials, Higher Education Course Materials, Professional Publishing, and University Presses.
    • Publishers’ book sales for June 2016 in all tracked categories were $1.46 billion, down 4.7% from June 2015.
  • In the first half of 2016, compared to the first half of 2015, trade sales were down 1.1% to $3.03 billion:
    • Adult Books had $2.11 billion in sales, down 2.8%
    • Childrens/YA Books had $689.3 million in sales, up 0.9%
    • Religious Presses had $222.4 million in sales, up by 10.4%

Trends for Trade by Format

  • In the first half of 2016 vs. 2015:
    • Paperback books grew 8.8% to $1.01 billion
    • Downloaded audio grew 32.3% to $126.7 million
    • Hardback books grew 0.9% $989.7 million
    • eBooks were down 20.0% to $579.5 million
  • Interesting trends in June:
    • June 2016 had an unusually high percentage of growth in religious presses’ Paperback Books, which are up 54.6% compared to June 2015; the whole category has grown 16.8% over the past half year vs. 2015.
    • June was also a month of incredible growth for downloaded audio, with 51.7% more revenue than June 2015.
    • In June eBooks had their slightest monthly decline in over a year, down only 9.7%.

Below is a chart that shows the market share of various Trade Book formats for the first half of the year from the past six years. Of note, eBooks have around the same percent of market share in 2016 as they did in 2011, while audiobooks doubled their share. The most consistent category has been hardback books, which has ranged from 33.0% to 36.4%.


Educational Materials and Professional Books

  • Educational Materials had a revenue loss of 2.1% for K-12 Instructional Materials and 5.9% for Higher Education Course Materials, in the first half of 2016 vs. 2015.
  • Professional Publishing was down 23.1% in the first half of 2016 vs. the first three months of 2015. These categories include business, medical, law, scientific and technical books. University presses were down 1.7% in the first half of 2016 vs. 2015.

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.

image by jurvetson

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mikel miller December 28, 2016 um 8:46 am

Interesting, very interesting. Would AAP members have more eBook sales if they charged slightly lower prices, rather than insisting on prices above $10? Sometimes, their eBook versions are almost as high as the paperback version. Just wondering…

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