The Association of American Publishers has proclaimed that the U.S. book publishing industry generated an estimated $26.23 billion in net revenue for 2017, representing 2.72 billion units. All figures represent publishers’ net revenue from tracked categories (trade, higher education course materials, preK-12 instructional materials, professional books, and university press), in all formats, from all distribution channels. It is important to note that these figures are not retailer/consumer sales figures.
Publisher revenue for trade books (fiction, non-fiction and religious presses) were flat (0.3%) increasing by $45 million in 2017 over 2016. Since 2013, publisher revenue for trade books increased by around $820 million.
Some highlights from the report:
- Non-fiction books for adults is the category with the largest growth for publishers, with a 5.4% increase in publisher revenue from 2016 to 2017. Since 2013, revenue for the category has grown 28.4% to $6.18 billion. Nearly 150 million more adult non-fiction books were sold in 2017 than in 2013.
- Publisher revenue for adult fiction declined slightly, by -1.2% to $4.38 billion. From 2013 to 2017, this category saw only one year of revenue growth (2015).
- Both fiction and non-fiction books for children and young adults saw more units sold in 2017 than in 2016, up 1.1% and 4.4% respectively. Over the past five years (2013 – 2017) publisher revenue for children’s and YA fiction has grown by 11.3% to $3.67 billion and non-fiction has declined by -2.3% to $652 million.
- Downloaded audio remained the fastest growing format, with 28.8% year-over-year growth from 2016 to 2017 and 146.2% growth over the past five years (2013 – 2017).
- More than 1 billion paperback books were sold (more than any other format in 2017) comprising 36.9% of books sold in all categories
- For the first time publisher sales to physical and online retail channels were approximately equal at $7.6 billion and $7.5 billion respectively in 2017. Within online retail channels, 43.2% were print formats, 27% were eBooks, 16.3% were instructional materials, 10.5% were downloaded audio, and 3.1% were physical audio or a different format.
- Revenue from higher education was flat (0.5%), revenue from pre-K-12 and professional books declined in 2017 by -2.9 and -0.7% respectively.
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten 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.