The Association of American Publishers have just released sales data for July 2016 and we now have some key indicators on the overall health of the audiobook and e-book industry. To the surprise of no one e-book sales were down 19.2% and audiobook sales increased by over 31%.
Childrens and Young Adult titles grew 31.1% in July 2016 vs. July 2016, with the majority of that growth coming from hardback books. While revenue for Trade Books grew in April, May, June and July, the gains were not enough to counter declines from earlier in the year, and the overall category was flat (-0.4%) for the first seven months of 2016 vs. 2015.
Overall publishers’ revenues (sales to bookstores, wholesalers, direct to consumer, online retailers, etc.) were down 7.9% for the first seven months of 2016 vs. the same period in 2015. The revenue decline occurred because of lower sales for higher education course materials, and Prek-12 Learning materials.
- From January to July, sales in all tracked categories were down 7.9% to $7.5 billion vs. the same time in 2015. Tracked categories include: Trade – fiction/non-fiction/religious, PreK-12 Instructional Materials, Higher Education Course Materials, Professional Publishing, and University Presses.
- Publishers’ book sales in July 2016 declined in all categories except Children’s/YA books
- From Jan. to July, trade sales were flat (-0.4%) to $3.63 billion:
- Adult Books had $2.51 billion in sales, down 3.3%
- Children’s/YA Books had $877.0 million in sales, up 6.3%
- Religious Presses had $250.0 million in sales, up by 8.3%
Trends for Trade by Format
- From Jan. – July 2016 vs. 2015:
- Paperback books grew 8.4%
- Downloaded audio grew 31.1%
- Hardback books grew 2.6%
- eBooks were down 19.2%
Educational Materials and Professional Books
- Educational Materials had a revenue loss of 8.9% for K-12 Instructional Materials and 18.1% for Higher Education Course Materials, in the first half of 2016 vs. 2015.
- Professional Publishing was down 19.4% in the first seven months 2016 vs. the same time in 2015. These categories include business, medical, law, scientific and technical books. University presses were down 3.9% during Jan. – July 2016 vs. 2015.
Michael Kozlowski has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past twelve years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times. He Lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.