Skip to main content

AAP Reports Trade Revenues Flat, eBook Revenues Down in 2016

The Association of American Publishers has released its end of year revenue report. The data is supplied by 1,200 member publishers, and reflects the net annual revenue of somewhere under half the industry.

In terms of format, ebook revenues were down 15.6%, and hardback books grew 2.2%, children’s board books grew 7.7% and paperback revenues grew 4.1% compared to 2015.

Downloaded audiobook revenues were up 25.8% for 2016.

In terms of category, adult book revenues declined 2.3% while YA and religious presses rose 3.7% and 8.4%, respectively.

Press release:

Publishers’ book sales for trade (consumer) books from Jan. to Dec. 2016 were flat -0.2% at $7.1 billion. While Religious Presses and Childrens & Young Adult Books (Childrens/YA) saw growth in 2016, the Adult Books category (which comprises more than 65% of all revenue for trade books) saw a 2.3% decline.

Overall publisher revenue for 2016 was $14.3 billion, down 6.6% from 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).

Publisher net revenue is tracked monthly by the Association of American Publishers (AAP) and includes sales data from more than 1,200 publishers (#AAPStats). A more detailed analysis of 2016 will be available with the StatShot Annual Report, which includes information from more than 1,800 publishers and market modeling, and will be available for purchase.

Some of the 2016 trends include:

  • Reading preferences continue to shift. Print books saw growth, and for the second consecutive year publisher revenues from eBook sales declined and downloaded audio grew.
  • Trade publishers fared better than educational or scholarly publishers, who saw declining revenue.
  • Childrens/YA titles and Religious Presses fared better than Adult Books, the opposite of 2015, when Adult Books did well and Childrens/YA and Religious Presses declined.


“There’s been a lot of buzz about print books resurgence and this year’s data tells us that readers are enjoying all formats that are available to them, and that includes eBooks and audiobooks. Just like print, eBooks are here to stay and we believe their growth is now stabilized,” said Tina Jordan, AAP’s Vice President, Trade Publishing. “Even when we see shifts in categories and formats, it’s clear that books remain a staple in our lives.”

For the first time in years, publisher revenue for all print formats saw growth: hardback books grew 2.2%, children’s board books grew 7.7% and paperback/mass market grew 4.1% compared to 2015 revenues. The news for digital books was mixed, as downloaded audio continued its double-digit growth from 2015, up 25.8% for 2016 vs 2015 and eBooks continued their decline, down 15.6%.

Trade Formats:

  • Within the Adult Books category, which saw revenue decline in 2016 vs. 2015, revenue for downloaded audio was up 24.9%; paperback revenue was up 5.3% for the year; eBook revenue was down 13.9%; and hardback revenue was down 3.7% for the year.
  • Within Childrens & Young Adult Books, hardback revenue was up 10.7%; paperback revenue was up 0.9%; board book revenue was up 7.7%; and eBook revenue declined 32.6%.

Chart below depicts Trade Book sales by format from 2011 – 2016.

Educational Materials:

Revenues for PreK-12 instructional materials declined 9.0% to $2.8 billion for 2016, compared to $3.1 billion in 2015.

Revenues for Higher Education course materials declined 13.4% to $3.6 billion for 2016, compared to $4.1 billion in 2015.

Professional and Scholarly Publishing:

Revenues for Professional Publishing, which includes business, medical, law, scientific and technical books and journals, were down significantly, by 20.8% at $628.8 million for 2016. University Press revenues were down 2.5% compared to 2015.

image by Matt From London

Similar Articles


AAP Reports Trade Revenues Flat, eBook Revenues Down in 2016 | The Passive Voice | A Lawyer's Thoughts on Authors, Self-Publishing and Traditional Publishing June 15, 2017 um 1:14 pm

[…] Link to the rest at The Digital Reader […]

Allen F June 16, 2017 um 6:25 pm

Not surprising as they only follow the qig5 (80% or better of their numbers) and ignore all the little shops (and indie/self-pub types).

I’ll wait for the next AE report for more down to Earth numbers.

Nate Hoffelder June 17, 2017 um 6:35 pm

"follow" and "ignore" aren’t quite the right words.

The AAP only has the data it can collect from publishers who put the time in submitting the info. There’s nothing wrong with the data; it’s just limited in scope, and that does not make it bad.

If nothing else, what we have here is a monthly report on the legacy industry. That is useful.

Paul Biba’s eBook, eLibrary, and ePublishing news compilation for week ending Friday, June 16 | The Digital Reader June 17, 2017 um 2:42 pm

[…] AAP Reports Trade Revenues Flat, eBook Revenues Down in 2016 (The Digital Reader) […]

Write a Comment