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AAP: Trade Sales Up, eBook Sales Down Through September 2016

The Association of American Publishers reported on Friday that trade publishing revenues rose a fraction of a percent in the first three quarters of 2016, to $4.99 billion.

At the same time, ebook revenues for the 1200 odd publishers submitting data to the AAP were down 20%, continuing the trend we’ve seen since the return of agency pricing in the US market.

Press Release:

The first three quarters of 2016 saw slight growth in trade books and a decline in educational and learning materials. Publishers’ revenues for all tracked categories (Trade – fiction/non-fiction/religious, PreK-12 Instructional Materials, Higher Education Course Materials, Professional Publishing, and University Presses) declined by $684.5 million from the first three quarters in 2015. Publisher revenues include sales to bookstores, wholesalers, direct to consumer, online retailers, etc.

Trade book revenue grew 0.6% to $4.99 billion through Sept. 2016 vs. the first three quarters in 2015. The $28.7 million growth came from children & young adult books and religious presses. Downloaded audio continues to gain popularity, growing 29.6%.

Overview of September 2016

September saw a slight increase in total sales for all tracked categories, with growth of 0.7% vs. Sept. 2015. Increases in children & young adult books and religious presses added to the year-to-date growth trend in those categories. Higher Education course materials also saw its first increase in some time, with growth of 9.2% vs. Sept. 2015.

  • In Sept. 2016, print dominated, and there was a significant bump in downloaded audio of 38.2% vs. 2015 numbers.
  • In the growing religious presses category, eBooks bucked the month and year’s trend with slight growth of 2.4%; they’re still down 20.0% year-to-date in the category.

Overview of First Three Quarters in 2016

  • For the three quarters of the year, sales in all tracked categories were down 5.8% to $11.13 billion vs. the same nine months in 2015.
  • In the first three quarters of 2016, compared to the first three quarters of 2015, trade sales were up 0.6% to $4.99 billion.

Trends for Trade by Format

In the first three quarters of 2016 vs. 2015

  • Paperback books grew 7.5% to $1.62 billion
  • Hardback books grew 4.1% $1.73 billion
  • Downloaded audio grew 29.6% to $199.2 million
  • eBooks were down 18.7% to $877.1 million

Educational Materials and Professional Books

  • Educational Materials had a revenue loss of 6.9% for K-12 Instructional Materials and 11.3% for Higher Education Course Materials, in the first three quarters of 2016 vs. 2015.
  • Professional Publishing was down 23.6% in the first three quarters of 2016 vs. the first three quarters of 2015. These categories include business, medical, law, scientific and technical books. University presses were down 4.5% 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 Ryan McCullah

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DaveMich February 26, 2017 um 12:10 am

I find it interesting that religious ebooks are trending upwards, while Family Christian Stores finally threw in the towel and closed all their stores.

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