AAP’s StatShot for November: Year-to-Date, a Modest Rise

In Feature Articles by Porter Anderson

The year-to-date view from the latest AAP StatShot report is much better looking than the month-over-month comparisons of November in 2019 and 2018—which was a hard act to follow.

Image -iStockphoto: Mon Sitj

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

‘Sustained Growth’
As headlines go, the Association of American Publishers (AAP) has chosen the upbeat option for its November 2019 StatShot report, reflecting that the industry as a whole was up “across all categories for January to November” by 0.9 percent compared to 2018 performance, with US$13.5 billion in revenue.

In K-12 instructional materials, the AAP points to ” sustained growth year-to-date, coming in at $3.1 billion, a 24.7-percent increase as compared to the first 11 months of 2018.”

Image: AAP

Looking at children’s books and YA, the organization sees a gain of 5.2 percent year-to-date over the same period in 2018, at $2.0 billion. Key points:

  • In the children’s and YA category, paperback saw the most growth of any format, climbing 9.2 percent as compared to the same period last year, reaching $821 million
  • Hardback books in the category saw growth 1.7 percent compared to the first 11 months of 2018, reaching $819 million
  • Board books rose 1.0 percent as compared to the same period in 2018, coming in at $144 million

And there’s a modest decline of 0.8 percent in the year-to-date trade category for consumer publications, at $7.2 billion.

Image: AAP

Month Over Month Views

It’s in the look at November 2019 vs. November 2018, however, that things appear less happy, with overall publisher revenue down 23.9 percent, at $964.6 million.

At Publishers Lunch, Michael Cader points out that “AAP StatShot data can vary widely from month to month (and that does not seem to be an indicator of anything significant).”

And it can be noted that Michelle Obama’s Becoming (Penguin Random House) had landed in mid-N0vember 2018, of course, contributing, needless to say, to what the AAP calls “unusually high revenue totals for the month of November 2018.”

November 2019: Overall US Publisher Revenue in Categories  (in millions)

Category November 2019 November 2018 Percent Change
Adult Books $447.6 $612.8 -27.0%
Children’s/YA $205.6 $269.9 -23.8%
Religious Presses $55.0 $71.1 -22.5%
Professional Books $50.1 $55.9 -10.4%
K-12 Instructional Materials $68.1 $70.0 -2.7%
Higher Ed Course Materials $130.5 $177.5 -26.4%
University Presses $3.2 $3.6 -11.8%
All Other $4.4 $6.7 -33.5%
Total $964.6 $1,267.3 -23.9%

Source: AAP

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

Charting the formats numbers month-over-month as we normally do, we get the following, with downloaded audio as the usual bright spot.

Format November 2019 November 2018 Percent Change
Hardback $297.6 $463.6 -35.8%
Board Book $15.8 $20.3 -22.1%
Paperback $189.8 $255.8 -25.8%
Mass Market $20.3 $22.2 -8.8%
Physical Audio $3.2 $6.7 -52.8%
Downloaded Audio $55.7 $44.9 24.1%
Ebooks $82.6 $86.5 -4.5%
Other $43.4 $53.9 19,5%
Total Trade $708.3 $953.7 25.7%

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).”

Participation can change over time, and includes revenue this time from 1,361 publishers, with participation subject to change over time.

As the association points out, “It is not 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; and (b) it’s a common accounting practices 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.”

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 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.