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AAP Reports eBook Sales Down 12.7% Through November 2015

6547866367_f58cb0331e_bThe Association of American Publishers released its month Statshot report for the period ending November 2015, and the news continues to be poor on the digital front.

eBook revenues are trending downwards at a time when the market is growing slightly. All three trade categories (adult, kids, religious presses) are showing healthy growth for the month of November and slight growth for the year, while ebooks are down 12.7%.

Curse you, Amazon, for "insisting"(*) on agency and giving publishers exactly what they wanted.

press release:

aap logoPublishers’ book sales for trade (consumer) books from Jan. to Nov. were up 1.2% to $6.6 billion compared to $6.5 billion in 2014.

Overall publisher revenue for the 11-month period was $13.9 billion, down 2.6% from the previous year. 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).


Publisher sales of trade books in Nov. were up 9.1% compared to Nov. 2014. The majority of the growth came from Adult Books, which were up 9.5% compared to Nov. 2014 and 3.1% year-to-date. While Childrens /YA Books had a good Nov., and were up 7.9% compared to Nov. 2014, the year-to-date figure still shows a decline of 3.8%.

Religious Presses have had several consecutive good months of sales, and Nov. continued the trend with 10.2% growth compared to Nov. 2014. The category is now up slightly at 0.9% for the year.

Trade Formats:

Downloaded audio and paperback books have grown every month in 2015 vs the same month in 2014. Within Adult Books, the most popular trade category this year, downloaded audio is up 40.3% and paperback is up 16.1%. Across all trade categories these formats are up 37.1% and 13.7%, respectively compared to the 2014 totals.

eBooks remain down 12.7% compared to the same 11 months in 2014. Looking at Adult Books, the decline in eBooks is slightly less pronounced at 7.3% decline for the year vs the same time in 2014.

Though hardback books had a strong 12.0% growth in the Adult Books category this Nov., the slight 1.9% decline in Childrens/YA books and declines from earlier in the year leaves the format down 2.4% year-to-date vs the same 11 months in 2014.

Educational Materials:

Revenues for PreK-12 instructional materials were down by 4.4% and Higher Education course materials were down 7.7% through Nov. compared to the same timeframe in 2014.

Professional and Scholarly Publishing:

Sales for Professional Publishing, which includes business, medical, law, scientific and technical books and journals, were down 4.7% for the year-to-date. University Presses were down 1.8% year-over-year compared to the same 11 months in 2014.

* NOTE: 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 Brian Smithson

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Mackay Bell March 23, 2016 um 11:18 am

What about adult coloring books?! That’s the future of literature.

CharlesC March 23, 2016 um 4:51 pm

"…"insisting"(*) on agency (pricing)? and giving publishers exactly what they wanted."

Citation needed.
"I’m skeptical of unsourced quotes, on the internet." A. Lincoln, 1867

Nate Hoffelder March 23, 2016 um 5:00 pm

That’s a reference to a story going around publishing at the moment.

Earlier this month Mike Shatzkin started a rumor that Amazon was secretly responsible for the return to agency. He said his sources told him that Amazon was “insisting” on agency terms.

I’m convinced that this is just spin from the industry trying to blame Amazon for its own mistakes, but we really don’t know.

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