AAP’s StatShot: US Publishing up 40.2 Percent in March, Year-Over-Year

In Feature Articles by Porter Anderson

Trade books were up 34.2 percent in March, and 24.9 percent year-to-date in the American market.

In Times Square, May 18. Image – Getty iStockphoto: Massimo Giachetti

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

Year-to-Date Downloaded Audio up 21 Percent
In the  StatShot report released Thursday (May 27) by the Association of American Publishers, the United States’ total revenues across all categories monitored by the system were up in March 40.2 percent as compared to March 2020. That brings the monetary figure to US$896.1 million.

Keep in mind that by March 6 of 2020, 21 passengers on a cruise ship off the coast of California had tested positive for the coronavirus COVID-19. On March 11, the World Health Organization would declare  COVID-19 pandemic on March 11. Donald Trump declared a national emergency on March 13. And California would issue the United States’ first stay-at-home order on March 19.

Year-to-date, the American market’s publishing revenues as tracked by StatShot were up in the first quarter by 22.3 percent, at $3.1 billion.

As Publishing Perspectives readers know, the AAP’s numbers reflect reported revenue for tracked categories including trade (consumer books); K-12 instructional materials; higher education course materials; professional publishing; and university presses.

Trade Revenues

The trade’s sales are being reported up 34.2 percent in March, coming in at $743.9 million, and up 24.9 percent year-to-date, with $2.1 billion in revenue.

Year-Over-Year Numbers

In terms of physical paper format revenues during the month of March, in the trade category–remember, this is consumer books):

  • Hardback revenues were up 50.9 percent, coming in at $293.7 million
  • Paperbacks were up 27.7 percent, with $239.9 million in revenue
  • Mass market was up 34.6 percent to $20.6 million
  • Board books were up 46.5 percent, with $15.3 million in revenue
  • Ebook revenues were up 21.0 percent for the month as compared to March of 2020 for a total of $88 million
  • The downloaded audio format–about which so many in the industry are enthusiastic–was up 16.7 percent for March, coming in at $58.5 million in revenue, though it stands at 7.9 percent of the market in March
  • Physical audio was down 16.1 percent coming in at $1.6 million, the ongoing downward glide of formats now overtaken by digital

Year-to-Date Numbers

In Q1 2021:

  • Hardback revenues were up 34.0 percent, at $765.3 million
  • Paperbacks were up 19.3 percent, with $651.2 million in revenue
  • Mass market was up 36.6 percent to $61.8 million
  • Board books were up 9.8 percent, with $44.9 million in revenue
  • Ebook revenues were up 20.7 percent as compared to the first three months of 2020 for a total of $278.2 million
  • Downloaded audio was up 21.0 percent, at $189.4 million in revenue
  • Physical audio was down 5.3 percent, at $4.8 million
Religious, Educational, and Professional Sectors

Year-Over-Year Numbers

  • Religious press revenues are reported by StatShot to be up 29.9 percent in March, at $58.4 million.
  • Education revenues were $111.7 million, up 115.5 percent compared with March of 2020
  • PreK-12 instructional materials revenues were up 81.5 percent for March 2021, at $61.4 million
  • Professional books, including business, medical, law, technical and scientific, were up 33.2 percent during the month, coming in at $33.1 million

Year-to-Date Numbers

In Q1 2021:

  • Religious press revenues, year-to-date, were up 12.8 percent, at 187.1 million.
  • Year-to-date education revenues were $865.9 million, up 18.7 percent as compared to the first three months of 2020
  • Year-to-date preK-12 revenues were up 24.0 percent, at $124.4 million
  • Year-to-date professional books were $95.9 million, up 12.7 percent as compared to the first three months of 2020
Methodology Notes

“AAP Statshot reports the monthly and yearly net revenue of publishing houses from US sales to bookstores, wholesalers, direct-to-consumer, online retailers, and other channels.  Statshot draws revenue data from approximately 1,360 publishers, although participation may fluctuate slightly from report to report.

“StatShot reports are designed to give ongoing revenue snapshots across publishing sectors 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 both a month-to-month and year-to-year basis within a given StatShot report.

“Monthly and yearly StatShot reports may not align completely across reporting periods, because: (a) The pool of StatShot participants may fluctuate from report to report; and (b) as in any business, it’s common accounting practice for publishing houses to update and restate their previously reported revenue data. If, for example, a business learns that its revenues were greater in a given year than its reports first indicated, it will restate the revenues in subsequent reports to AAP, permitting AAP in turn to report information that is more accurate than before.”

More from Publishing Perspectives on industry statistics is here. More on the Association of American Publishers is here, more of our coverage of AAP StatShot reports is here, and more on the US market is here.

More from us on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing 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.