Over the course of 2016 overall publisher revenue was $14.3 billion, down 6.6% from 2015. One of the key trends from last year was that reading preferences continue to shift. Print books saw growth, and for the second consecutive year publisher revenues from eBook sales declined and downloaded audio grew.
Publishers’ book sales for trade (consumer) books from Jan. to Dec. 2016 were flat -0.2% at $7.1 billion. While Religious Presses and Children’s & Young Adult Books (Childrens/YA) saw growth in 2016, the Adult Books category (which comprises more than 65% of all revenue for trade books) saw a 2.3% decline.
Overall publisher revenue for 2016 was $14.3 billion, down 6.6% from 2015. 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).
Some of the 2016 trends include:
- Reading preferences continue to shift. Print books saw growth, and for the second consecutive year publisher revenues from eBook sales declined and downloaded audio grew.
- Trade publishers fared better than educational or scholarly publishers, who saw declining revenue.
- Childrens/YA titles and Religious Presses fared better than Adult Books, the opposite of 2015, when Adult Books did well and Childrens/YA and Religious Presses declined.
“There’s been a lot of buzz about print books resurgence and this year’s data tells us that readers are enjoying all formats that are available to them, and that includes eBooks and audiobooks. Just like print, eBooks are here to stay and we believe their growth is now stabilized,” said Tina Jordan, AAP’s Vice President, Trade Publishing. “Even when we see shifts in categories and formats, it’s clear that books remain a staple in our lives.”
For the first time in years, publisher revenue for all print formats saw growth: hardback books grew 2.2%, children’s board books grew 7.7% and paperback/mass market grew 4.1% compared to 2015 revenues. The news for digital books was mixed, as downloaded audio continued its double-digit growth from 2015, up 25.8% for 2016 vs 2015 and eBooks continued their decline, down 15.6%.
- Within the Adult Books category, which saw revenue decline in 2016 vs. 2015, revenue for downloaded audio was up 24.9%; paperback revenue was up 5.3% for the year; eBook revenue was down 13.9%; and hardback revenue was down 3.7% for the year.
- Within Childrens & Young Adult Books, hardback revenue was up 10.7%; paperback revenue was up 0.9%; board book revenue was up 7.7%; and eBook revenue declined 32.6%.
Chart below depicts Trade Book sales by format from 2011 – 2016.
Revenues for PreK-12 instructional materials declined 9.0% to $2.8 billion for 2016, compared to $3.1 billion in 2015.
Revenues for Higher Education course materials declined 13.4% to $3.6 billion for 2016, compared to $4.1 billion in 2015.
Professional and Scholarly Publishing:
Revenues for Professional Publishing, which includes business, medical, law, scientific and technical books and journals, were down significantly, by 20.8% at $628.8 million for 2016. University Press revenues were down 2.5% compared to 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.