May was a terrible month for e-book sales and the format declined 18.3% in 2016 vs the same period last year. The same cannot be said about print, which saw increases across the board. Paperback books grew 7.2% and hardback books saw a big 17.4% uptake. The lone bright spot with digital was audiobooks, which continued their explosive growth and saw a 14.9% increase in sales.
- Publishers revenue from book sales for May 2016 was $1.05 billion, up 1.6% from May 2015. These numbers include sales for all tracked categories.
- Year-to-date, sales were down 3.3% to $3.89 billion vs. the same four months in 2015.
- Trade (consumer) Books sales were $570.0 million in May 2016, up 7.8% from May 2015. Year-to-date, Trade is down 2.6% compared to the same time in 2015. Trade numbers include Childrens/YA Books, Adult Books and Religious Books.
Trends for Trade
- The format trends that we’ve noted throughout the year – growth in paperback books and downloaded audio and decline in eBooks continued. In May 2016 vs. May 2015:
- Paperback books grew 7.2%
- Downloaded audio grew 14.9%
- Hardback books grew 17.4%;
- eBooks were down 18.2%
- Religious Presses is the category with the most growth year-to-date. It’s shown growth every month to-date from the prior year. Though it’s a relatively small category with a total revenue of $176.1 million, it’s earned 8.9% growth this year.
Educational Materials and Professional Books
- Educational Materials were up 7.2% for PreK-12 Instructional Materials and down 16.7% for Higher Education Course Materials in May 2016 vs. May 2015. These numbers have fluctuated throughout 2016 due to seasonal variations. The year-to-date numbers are more representative of trends, with flat revenues of +0.8% for PreK-12 and decline of 2.6% in Higher Ed.
- Professional Publishing was down 28.5% in May 2016 vs. May 2015. These categories include business, medical, law, scientific and technical books. University presses were up 4.4%. Year to date, professional books are down year-to-date, and university presses are flat.
Michael Kozlowski has written about audiobooks and e-readers for the past twelve years. Newspapers and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times have picked up his articles. He Lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.