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Publisher eBook Revenues Down in First 7 Months of 2015

aap logoNumerous press reports over the past few months have informed us that the major publishers are experiencing a decline in ebook revenues, and based on the latest statements from the Association of American Publishers, that trend is not going to stop any time soon.

The AAP released new stats today for the first seven months of the year.

Or rather, the AAP released statements about sales stats. Since the AAP is reserving all the actual figures for paying customers, I can’t report on them. And without that data, I might as well simply repost the email as rewrite it.

When you read it, do note that trade ebook revenues among the major publishers declined 11.2%. That of course does not reflect the entire market, but only the revenues of the major publishers.


Publishers’ book sales for trade (consumer) books from Jan. to July were up 0.3% compared to the same timeframe in 2014.  July was a strong month for trade books, with Adult Books, Children/Young Adult Books and Religious Presses all showing double-digit growth over July 2014.

Despite the bump from July’s trade sales, overall publisher revenue for the seven-month period was $8.37 billion, down 2.0%. These numbers include sales for all tracked categories (Trade – fiction/non-fiction/religious, K-12 Instructional Materials, Higher Education Course Materials, Professional Publishing, and University Presses). Publishers net revenue is tracked monthly by the Association of American Publishers (AAP) and includes sales data from more than 1,200 publishers (#AAPStats).


July was a good month for all categories of trade books with sales growth in  Adult Books (10.9%), Children/YA Books (11.5%) and Religious Presses (14.6%), compared to July 2014.

The trade category for Jan. – July 2015 showed slight growth for the first time this year as a whole at 0.3%, at $3.67billion.

Trade Formats:

Downloaded audio remained the fastest growing format, increasing 31.2% in July, compared to July 2014. This brings the year-to-date growth for this format to 37.0%, compared to the same timeframe in 2014.

eBooks were down for the first seven months of the year at 11.2% compared to the same timeframe in 2014. The bulk of the decline comes from Children/YA Books, which has seen a 44.7% decline compared to the first seven months of 2014.

Hardback books had an upswing in sales this July, growing at 43.1% for Adult Books and 6.9% for Children/YA Books compared to July 2014. However, the year-to-date growth for this format is still down 6.6% overall for the year compared to the same timeframe in 2014.

Paperback books also had sales growth in July for Adult Books (18.4%) and Children/YA Books (23.6%), compared to July 2014. From Jan. – July, this category has grown 13.2% compared to the same timeframe in 2014.

Educational Materials:

Despite having a positive July, with growth of 1.4%, revenues for PreK-12 instructional materials were down by 6.4% the seven months of the year. Higher Education course materials were down 6.0%.

Professional and Scholarly Publishing:

Sales for Professional Publishing, which includes business, medical, law, scientific and technical books and journals, are up 33.8% in July and 23.4% for the year-to-date. University Presses were down slightly 0.7% year-over-year compared to the same seven months in 2014.

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fjtorres November 10, 2015 um 11:20 am

Publishers weekly recently looked at three of the bigger publishers' financial reports and highlighted even where gross sales where marginally higher, like the AAP july report, a closer look reveals a decline in margins which is exactly what you’d expect with digital sales down. In most cases the double digit drop in ebooks is being masked by increased digital audio sales.
Of course, we all know who dominates digital audio books, right?

Oh, and the big boot has yet to fall.
The next quarterly report from the Randy Penguin is the one to keep an eye out for to see how their margins trend.

fjtorres November 10, 2015 um 11:21 am

Forgot the link:

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