Digital book sales have been declining all year long in the United States. This is primarily attributed to the pandemic of last year, when ebook sales were the highest they have ever been in almost a decade. This trend continues in May, 2022 when ebook revenues were down 5.7% for the month as compared to May 2021 for a total of $82.5 million. Digital audiobook sales were up 6.2% for May, coming in at $65.2 million in revenue. Physical Audio was down 46.4% coming in at $1.2 million.
Year-to-date ebook revenues were down 9.1% as compared to the first five months of 2021 for a total of $420.9 million. Digital audiobooks was up 4.0%, coming in at $326.3 million in revenue. Physical Audio was down 35.0% coming in at $6.1 million.
Since ebook revenue is down for the year, does this mean hardcovers and paperback books are making up for the loss? Not necessarily. In terms of physical paper format revenues during the month of May, in the Trade (Consumer Books) category, Hardback revenues were down 10.7%, coming in at $227.8 million; Paperbacks were up 5.6%, with $249.8 million in revenue; Mass Market was down 46.6% to $10.3 million; while Special Bindings were up 42.9%, with $12.7 million in revenue.
Year-to-date Trade revenues were down 1.4%, at $3.5 billion for the first five months of the year. Hardback revenues were down 7.5%, coming in at $1.2 billion; Paperbacks were up 8.7%, with $1.3 billion in revenue; Mass Market was down 25.6% to $73.9 million; and Special Bindings were up 4.0%, with $68.8 million in revenue.
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.