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 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 CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and Verge.