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AAP Reports Publisher Revenues Up in May 2016 While eBook Revenues Continue to Decline

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe American Association of Publishers released a new monthly Statshot report on Wednesday which showed that publisher revenues are recovering from the slump at the beginning of the year.

The 1200 odd publishers which submit their data to the AAP saw a 7.8% increase in trade revenues in May 2016 compared to May 2015. Trade revenues totaled $570.0 million.

Total publisher revenues reached $1.05 billion for May 2016, up 1.6% vs May 2015; but still down year-to-date by 3.3%.

When it comes to formats paperback (7.2%), hardback (17.4%), and audiobook (14.9%) revenues were all up in May 2016, while ebook revenues were down 18.2%.

Press release:

All measured categories in Trade Books grew in May 2016. Bolstered by increases in Adult Books (8.9%) and Religious Presses (15.6%), Trade Books grew a total of 7.8% to $570.0 million in May 2016 compared to May 2015. While April and May provided two months of gains in Trade, revenue was still down year-to-date by 2.6% compared to the same five months in 2015.

Overall publisher revenue for all tracked categories in May 2016 (Trade, PreK-12 Instructional Materials, Higher Education Course Materials, Professional Publishing, and University Presses) was up 1.6% vs May 2015; however, it remains down year-to-date by 3.3%.


  • Publishers revenue from book sales for May 2016 was $1.05 billion, up 1.6% from May 2015. These numbers include sales for all tracked categories.
    • Year-to-date, sales were down 3.3% to $3.89 billion vs. the same four months in 2015.
  • Trade (consumer) Books sales were $570.0 million in May 2016, up 7.8% from May 2015. Year-to-date, Trade is down 2.6% compared to the same time in 2015. Trade numbers include Childrens/YA Books, Adult Books and Religious Books.

Trends for Trade

  • The format trends that we’ve noted throughout the year – growth in paperback books and downloaded audio and decline in eBooks continued. In May 2016 vs. May 2015:
    • Paperback books grew 7.2%
    • Downloaded audio grew 14.9%
    • Hardback books grew 17.4%;
    • eBooks were down 18.2%
  • Religious Presses is the category with the most growth year-to-date. It’s shown growth every month to-date from the prior year. Though it’s a relatively small category with a total revenue of $176.1 million, it’s earned 8.9% growth this year.

Educational Materials and Professional Books

  • Educational Materials were up 7.2% for PreK-12 Instructional Materials and down 16.7% for Higher Education Course Materials in May 2016 vs. May 2015. These numbers have fluctuated throughout 2016 due to seasonal variations. The year-to-date numbers are more representative of trends, with flat revenues of +0.8% for PreK-12 and decline of 2.6% in Higher Ed.
  • Professional Publishing was down 28.5% in May 2016 vs. May 2015. These categories include business, medical, law, scientific and technical books. University presses were up 4.4%. Year to date, professional books are down year-to-date, and university presses are flat.

image  by teclasorg

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John Aga October 19, 2016 um 3:41 pm

News flash. Stupid ebook price strategies suppress the sale of ebooks. Ebook prices equal or greater than hardbacks suppress ebook sales. Ebook prices equal or greater than paperbacks when released suppress ebook sales. This is a real tough one to figure out.

Will O’Neil October 19, 2016 um 4:49 pm

Sums it all up very neatly, I think. Bleeding is seldom an effective treatment for anemia.

Carmen Webster Buxton October 19, 2016 um 7:36 pm

I agree with the above comment. Did they really expect to sell more ebooks with that strategy? Especially when you consider they have always priced based on format. That is, they charge the most for a hardcover, then trade paperback, then mass market paperback. They basically invented the trade paperback format so they could charge more for a paperback book, by making look more substaial. Well, nothing is as insubstantial as digital and yet they expect to charge more!

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