AAP’s StatShot Report January to June 2019: $6 Billion in US Book Revenue

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Combining ebooks and downloaded audio, digital formats comprised 22.3 percent of reported US trade publishing revenue, in the first six months of this year, according to the AAP’s StatShot data.

In the Association of American Publishers’ StatShot interpretation of trade format revenues for the first half of the US market’s year, downloaded audio accounted for 8.1 percent of the whole, although that format still is, far and away, the fastest growing. Source: Association of American Publishers, January to June 2019

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

Downloaded Audio: 8.1 Percent of Trade Sales
In releasing its StatShot report today for June, the Association of American Publishers has put together its January-to-June six-month report, as interpreted from “publisher net revenue, including sales to bookstores, wholesalers, direct to consumer, online retailers, etc.”

The data is tracked monthly and at this point, the AAP says, includes revenue from about 1,360 publishers, “with participation subject to change over time.” That last point is to be kept in mind, of course, because it reminds us that the comparisons of one time frame’s report to another may not always be based on a stable pool of input. At the end of this article we have a more extensive discussion of the variables at play.

The top-line message from the organization is that the combined revenue of the participating publishers for the first six months of the year was nearly US$6 billion. The previous caveat in place, that represents an increase of 6.9 percent over the same first-half period of 2018.

The revenue categories tracked in these metrics include:

  • Trade
  • PreK–12 instructional materials
  • Higher education course materials
  • Professional publishing
  • University presses

Key factors as provided to the news media in today’s (August 28) report, are:

  • In trade publishing, net revenue for print formats—including hardback, paperback, mass market, and board books—grew 2.5 percent as compared to the first six months of last year, reaching $2.5 billion.
  • Print formats accounted for 72.1 percent of all reported sales during the first six months of 2019.
  • Ebook revenues were at $493 million, a decline of 3.8 percent as compared to the same period in 2018.
  • Downloaded audio was up 33.8 percent, reaching $279 million.
  • Sales of physical-format audio declined by 18.0 percent, coming in at $17 million.
  • Downloaded audio accounted for 8.1 percent of all trade sales during the first six months of 2019.
  • Children’s and YA books saw $919 million, an increase of 7.4 percent over the same period in 2018.
  • Adult books were at $2.2 billion, a slight increase of 1.4 percent over the same period last year.
  • Religious press revenues were at $328 million, an increase of 11.4 percent over the first six months of 2018.
  • Professional publishing in the fields of business, law, medicine, science, and technology were at $274 million, a small increase of 1.1 percent over the same period last year.

The AAP expresses the monthly year-over-year changes from January to June in the following chart.

Source: Association of American Publishers, January to June 2019

Trade: $3.5 Billion, Up 3.8 Percent

Religious presses in the first six months of the year led in revenue growth with an 11.4-percent increase over the same period last year. They now represent 9.5 percent of all reported trade revenue.

January-to-June  2019 US Trade Book Net Revenue (in millions)

Category January to June 2019 January to June 2018 Percent Change
Adult Fiction/Nonfiction $2,206.8 $2,176.2 1.4%
Children’s/YA $918.8 $855.2 7.4%
Religious Presses $328.2 $294.6 11.4%
Total Trade $3,453.9 $3,326.0 3.8%

Source: AAP

In trade figures for the first six months of the US market’s 2019, one interesting point is that while ebooks declined 3.8 percent year to date, ebook revenue for university presses actually increased by 10.8 percent and for religious presses by 4.1 percent.

Combining ebooks and downloaded audio, digital formats comprised 22.3 percent of reported trade revenue.

January-to-June  2019 US Trade Revenue by Format (in millions)

Format January to June 2019 January to June 2018 Percent Change
Hardback $1,183.2 $1,158.5 2.1%
Paperback & Mass Market $1,251.3 $1,217.7 2.8%
Ebooks $492.7 $512.3 -3.8%
Downloaded Audio $278.6 $208.2 33.8%
Physical Audio $17.3 $21.1 -18.0%
Board Books $57.2 $54.6 4.6%
Other $173.6 $153.7 13.0%
Total Trade $3,453.9 $3,326.9 3.8%

Source: AAP

Education and Scholarly Publishing

In the first six months of 2019, the AAP reports that total revenues for participating education and scholarly publishers “saw an uptick, reaching $2.52 billion and increasing 11.6 percent compared with the same period last year. The largest growth was attributable to K–12 sector.

The sector includes professional books, PreK–12 instructional materials, higher education, and university presses.

January-to-June  2019 US Education and Scholarly Publishing (in millions)

Category January to June 2019 January to June 2018 Percent Change
Higher Ed Course Materials $918.3 $969.6 -5.3%
PreK–12 Instructional Materials $1,305.4 $993.6 31.4%
Professional Books $273.9 $271.0 1.1%
University Presses $22.5 $23.0 -2.1%
Total $2,520.0 $2,257.2 11.6%

Source: AAP

In the professional books categories, the AAP’s narrative reports, “Participating publishers reported revenue growth in professional books for March 2019 (18.0 percent), May 2019 (11.8 percent), and June 2019 (21.0 percent), but the category was relatively flat year-to-date with 1.1 percent net revenue growth at $273.9 million.

January-to-June  2019 US Professional Book Publishing (in millions)

Category January to June 2019 January to June 2018 Percent Change
Business $27.5 $27.0 1.9%
Medical $113.5 $103.1 10.1%
Law, Technical , Scientific, and Other $132.9 $140.9 -5.7%
Total $273.9 $271.0 1.1%

Source: AAP

Cautions Around Comparative StatShot Interpretations

A more thorough explanation than is sometimes provided follows the basic information distributed to the news media this time, relative to the variables that can affect comparative interpretations of the reports over time.

We’ll quote this fully for you here, and any italicized emphasis is the AAP’s:

“StatShot reports are designed to give an up-to-date snapshot of the publishing industry using the best data currently available. The reports reflect participants’ most recent reported revenue for current and previous periods, enabling readers to compare revenue on a year-to-year basis within a given StatShot report.

“For example, the current report indicates that, based on current data, publishing revenues were $6 billion for the first six months of 2019, an increase of 6.9 percent over the first six months of last year.

“It is not, however, possible to make apples-to-apples comparisons to StatShot reports issued in previous years because:

“(a) The number of StatShot participants fluctuates over time, with the pool of participants growing or shrinking in each report. This year’s 6-month report, for example, drew data from more publishers than last years.

“And (b) It is a common accounting practice for businesses, including publishers, to restate revenue numbers based on updated information. If, for example, a business learns that its revenues were greater in a given year than its reports indicated, it will restate the revenues in subsequent reports, providing information that is more up-to-date and accurate.

“This year’s report on revenues for the first six months of 2019 reflects some restatements for 2018 revenues.”


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 has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's 2019 International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for trade and indie authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson also has worked as a senior producer, editor, and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA, and as an arts critic (National Critics Institute) with The Village Voice and Dallas Times Herald.

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