Revenue for digital books in the United States declined by 4.7% over the previous year, and generated $1.1 billion. Digital audiobooks had an amazing year and the format increased by double digit figures, 13.4%, coming in at $766.2 million in revenue. Physical Audio was down 16.4% coming in at $21.6 million. It will be interesting to see if audiobooks can surpass ebook sales in the next few years.
Print and hardcover book sales were up 11.8 and total revenue was $9.5 billion for 2021. Breaking it down, hardback revenues were up 11.3%, coming in at $3.7 billion; Paperbacks were up 18.8%, with $3.1 billion in revenue; Mass Market was up 5.5% to $240.9 million; and Board Books were up 9.7%, with $212.1 million in revenue. This type of revenue really underscores how print is here to stay, and ebooks will never surpass it.
The American Publishers Association has just published their December, 2021 figures too. eBook revenues were down 5.4% for the month as compared to December of 2020 for a total of $83.9 million. The Downloaded Audio format was down 0.1% for December, coming in at $66.0 million in revenue. Physical Audio was down 27.6% coming in at $1.4 million. In terms of physical paper format revenues during the month of December, in the Trade (Consumer Books) category, Hardback revenues were down 3.7%, coming in at $298.4 million; Paperbacks were up 8.8%, with $266.2 million in revenue; Mass Market was down 26.2% to $19.1 million; and Board Books were up 20.3%, with $20.2 million in revenue.
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.