Digital audiobooks increased by 25.8% in 2016 and generated $264.8 million in revenue. Last year audiobook sales saw another strong gain of 30% and major publishers brought in $343.4 million dollars. For the first time ever, digital audiobooks have overtaken mass market paperbacks in revenue total revenue earned. Audiobooks on tape and CD’s continue to bring in a respectable amount of money, physical audio was $55.6 million in 2017, down 8.6% from 60.9 in 2016
What I find interesting about the 2017 sales figures provided by the Association of American Publishers is that tapes and cd’s are on their way out and everything has gravitated towards digital. It is important to note that the AAP cannot track sales from streaming services such as Amazon Kindle Unlimited or Scribd, nor can they track original content produced by Audible or Kobo.
The pace of eBooks declining revenue appears to be cooling, with a -4.7% – significantly less than the double-digit declines experienced in 2015 and 2016. In 2017 ebooks generated $1.103 billion in overall sales, but does not account for revenue gained through unlimited services or indie author sales. The AAP only records purchased from big publishers.
Overall publisher revenue for 2017 was flat at $14.7 billion, up $57.5 million (+0.4%) from 2016. 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). Several categories that had declined in 2016 rebounded in 2017, including Adult Books, University Presses, and Professional Books.
Print books generally continued on their positive growth trend from 2016. Revenue from print books totaled $5,774.9 million in 2017, up about $60 million (+1.0%), from 2016. In 2017, revenue grew for trade books’ most popular format – hardback books – which was up by $83.9 million; this countered the $4.8 million revenue decline in paperback books (-0.2%). Adult Books saw increased revenue from 2016, up $148.1 million. Higher Education publishers’ revenue was flat (+0.2%), ending the previous years’ declines.
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.