Publishers’ Sales Decline 2% Through Third Quarter of 2015

AAPThe Association of American Publishers (AAP) released a quarterly update this morning, saying that publishers’ sales for the first three quarters of 2015 (January-September) were down 2.0 percent at $11.9 billion, compared to $12.1 billion for the same period in 2014.

The AAP tracks sales for trade fiction, non-fiction and religious, K-12 instructional materials, higher education course materials, professional publishing, and university presses.

While sales for trade books overall were flat, there was change in the following categories:

· Adult books – up 2.9 percent to $3.5 billion, compared to $3.4 billion during the same period in 2014
· Children/YA – down 7.4 percent to $1.1 billion, compared to $1.2 billion during the same period in 2014
· Religious Presses – down 1.5 percent to $390.1 million, compared to $395.1 billion during the same period in 2014

“Adult books are leading the way so far this year for growth in the trade category,” said Tina Jordan, vice president of the AAP. “This is a stark contrast to the tremendous growth last year in Children and Young Adult books.”

Moreover, trade paperbacks grew 13.3 percent and digital audiobooks continued to remain the fastest-growing format with 37.7-percent growth.

By contrast, hardcover books were down 6.4 percent, and ebooks were down 11.1 percent, with most of the decline coming from children/YA books (44.8 percent)

The following chart shows publisher revenue for different trade formats from January–September from 2011 to 2015.

Publisher Revenue Chart

And the following chart shows the growth in net sales from digital audiobooks for that time period in each year. The format doubled in popularity from 2012 to 2015.

Audiobook Chart

Revenues for preK-12 materials were down 5.0 percent and higher education materials were down 4.4 percent.

Finally, sales for professional publishing, which includes business, medical, law, scientific and technical books and journals, were up 13.0 percent, and university presses declined slightly at 1.8 percent.

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