July 26, 2016 Last Updated 1:00 pm

February AAP’s StatShot Data shows eBook sales by big member publishers continues to tank

Publishers’ book sales for Feb. 2016 were up 4.2 percent, but the big publishers continue to lose digital book sales to other competitors outside the association

The latest StatShot Data report from the Association of American Publishers basically contained bad news on book sales from the association’s publishers. But for TNM readers, the headline has to be the nearly 19 percent decline in eBook sales.

Every month these reports come out and the basic story is the same: print books are fine, but digital sucks. Of course, the same follow-up story is the same, too: the AAP report only says what is happening with one part of the market.

Digital-only publishers (and authors) don’t appreciate the bad news about eBook sales coming from the AAP, but there is not much that can be done about it, right?

Here is the latest announcement from the Association of American Publishers:

Washington, DC – July 26, 2016 – Publishers’ revenues were up Feb. 2016, compared to Feb. 2015. Despite gains in Childrens/YA Books and Religious Presses, a decline in Adult Books meant an overall decline for Trade books of 0.9% Feb. 2016 vs. Feb. 2015 and 8.2% year-to-date vs. 2015.  Also within trade, downloaded audio and print formats continued to grow as eBooks declined.

Big Picture Data

  • Publishers’ book sales for Feb. 2016 were $662.2 million, up 4.2% from $597.4 million in Feb. 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.)
    • Year-to-date, sales were down 3.0% to $1.68 billion vs. the same two months in 2015.
  • Trade (consumer) books sales were $418.1 million in Feb. 2016, down 0.9% from $422.1 million in Feb. 2015. This includes Childrens/YA Books, Adult Books and Religious Books.
    • Adult Books had $281.5 million in sales in Feb. 2016, down 6.6% from $301.2 million in Feb. 2015.
    • Childrens/YA Books had $101.2 million in sales in Feb. 2016, up 17.0% from $86.5 million in Feb 2015.
    • Religious Presses had $35.4 million in sales, up by 3.2% from $34.3 million in Feb. 2015.
    • Year-to-date, trade sales are down 8.2% to $907.2 million vs. the same two months in 2015.

Format Trends for Trade

  • Trends appeared to continue from 2015. In Feb. 2016 vs. Feb. 2015:
    • Paperback books grew 9.8%
    • Downloaded audio grew 42.9%
    • Hardback books grew 4.6%
    • eBooks were down 18.7%

Educational Materials and Professional Books

  • Educational Materials had gains of 5.5% for K-12 Instructional Materials and 58.5% for Higher Education Course Materials, in Feb. 2016 vs. Feb. 2015. Importantly, education sales in Feb. are typically low, relative to the rest of the year.
  • Professional Publishing was down 19.0% in Feb. 2016 vs. Feb. 2015 which includes business, medical, law, scientific and technical books and journals.
  • John 2 years ago

    Gee, could be big publishers continue to over price their ebooks, big surprise.