AAP’s US StatShot for April Shows a Slight Decline from the Previous Year

In News by Porter Anderson

In the US, book publisher revenue for April of this year was $793.5 million, down $13.1 million (-1.6 percent) compared to the same month last year.

Image – iStockphoto: Fabrika Cr

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

A Modest Decrease in Overall Revenue, Year Over Year
The Association of American Publishers (AAP) today (July 11) has released its April StatShot statistical report on the United States industry, announcing that from January through April, overall participating publisher revenue was US$3.36 billion, an increase of $144.4 million (4.5 percent) compared to the same period in 2018.

It’s good to remember that the initial iterations of StatShot reports can be revised over time, and there could be a revision for the April report.

As the data is assessed at this point, publisher revenue for April of this year was $793.5 million, a decrease of $13.1 million (-1.6 percent) compared to the same period in 2018 for all tracked categories, which are:

  • Trade
  • PreK-12 instructional materials
  • Higher education course materials
  • Professional publishing
  • University presses
US Trade Book Publishing

Quoting the association’s media messaging today, “In April 2019, publisher net revenue for trade (consumer) books—including sales to bookstores, wholesalers, direct to consumer, online retailers, etc.—was $585.1 million, which is relatively flat compared to April 2018 ($587.8 million).”

Religious presses led in revenue growth with 9.5-percent growth, followed by children’s and YA books at 6.7 percent. Revenue for adult books declined 4.4 percent this month.

April 2019 US Trade Book Revenue (in millions)

Category April 2019 April 2018 Percent Change
Adult Fiction/Nonfiction $374.8 $391.9 -4.4%
Children’s/YA $156.1 $146.4 6.7%
Religious Presses $54.2 $49.5 9.5%
Total Trade $585.1 $587.8 -0.5%

Source: AAP

US Trade in Terms of Format

A particularly notable drop, at least in this initial accounting of the April figures, hit adult hardback books, logging a revenue decline of 16 percent. That in turn drove down all hardback sales by 5.5 percent for the month. And that occurred despite hardback books in children’s and YA categories jumping by 13.9 percent, as religious presses rose 10.7 percent.

Mass market was the best performer among print formats in adult books, cited as having an increased revenue of 3.7 percent to net $20.4 million in revenue.

Downloaded audiobooks, of course, powered onward as the format displaying the highest growth, with 28.7 percent increased total revenue from the prior year to $49.1 million.

Ebooks declined 2.5 percent overall for April, but ebook revenue for religious presses increased 1.8 percent, year over year.

April 2019: US Total Trade Revenue by Format (in millions)

Format April 2019 April 2018 Percent Change
Hardback $210.3 $222.6 -5.5%
Paperback & Mass Market $206.4 $203.4 1.5%
Ebooks $83.9 $86.0 -2.5%
Downloaded Audio $49.1 $38.1 28.7%
Physical Audio $3.1 $3.7 -16.4%
Board Books $9.2 $8.7 6.4%
Other $23.1 $25.2 -8.4%
Total Trade $585.1 $587.8 -0.5%

Source: AAP

Education and Scholarly Publishing

Total revenues in April for participating education and scholarly publishers were $204.8 million, a decrease of 5.1 percent compared to April 2018.

Both preK-12 instructional materials (19.5 percent) and university presses (1.3 percent) saw increases compared to last year.

April 2019: US Education and Scholarly Publishing (in millions)

Category April 2019 April 2018 Percent Change
Higher Ed Course Materials $17.7 $47.2 -62.4%
PreK-12 Instructional Materials $149.8 $125.3 19.5%
Professional Books $34.0 $40.1 -15.2%
University Presses $3.3 $3.3 1.3%
Total $204.8 $215.9 -5.1%

Source: AAP

The customary explanatory copy from the AAP reads: “Publisher net revenue, including sales to bookstores, wholesalers, direct to consumer, online retailers, etc., is tracked monthly by the Association of American Publishers (AAP).” This time, the number of publishers the revenue of which has been tracked is reported to be about 1,360. Participation can change over time, and includes revenue from about 1,373 publishers, with participation subject to change over time.

More from Publishing Perspectives on industry statistics is here. And more from us on the Association of American Publishers is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson is a non-resident fellow of Trends Research & Advisory, and he has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.