AAP StatShot: US Industry Up 18.1 Percent, January to June, Year to Date

In News by Porter Anderson

Across the entire US book industry, total revenues in January-to-June 2021 came in at US$6.3 billion, up 18 percent year-to-date.

New York City’s Strand Bookstore at 13th Street and Broadway, July 14. Image – Getty iStockphoto: Chain Gang Pictures

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

Revenues in July: ‘Essentially Flat’
In its June 2021 StatShot report, released today (August 24), the Association of American Publishers (AAP) reports that total revenues across all categories were “essentially flat,” showing an increase of 0.2 percent as compared to June 2020, the monetary total being US$1.2 billion. Year-to-date revenues were up 18.1 percent, at $6.3 billion, for January through June.

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

Year-Over-Year Numbers

Trade (consumer books) sales were down 8.0 percent in June, coming in at $638.5 million. In terms of physical paper format revenues during the month of June, in the trade category:

  • Hardback revenues were down 10.2 percent, coming in at $203.1 million
  • Paperbacks were down 8.3 percent, with $225.2 million in revenue
  • Mass market was down 26.0 percent to $18.2 million
  • Board books were up 13.3 percent, with $14.3 million in revenue

In digital formats:

  • Ebook revenues were down 19.9 percent for the month as compared to June of 2020 for a total of $87.7 million
  • The popular downloaded audio format was up 18.5 percent for June, at $64.8 million in revenue
  • Physical audio was down 7.9 percent, at $1.7 million

Year-to-Date Numbers

Year-to-date, trade revenues were up 17.0 percent, with $4.1 billion in revenue.

  • Hardback revenues were up 25.3 percent, at $1.5 billion
  • Paperbacks were up 16.4 percent, with $1.4 billion in revenue
  • Mass market was up 8.0 percent to $117.4 million
  • Board books were up 10.2 percent, with $80.3 million in revenue

In digital formats:

  • Ebook revenues were down 0.3 percent as compared to the first six months of 2020 for a total of $542.8 million
  • Downloaded audio was up 18.4 percent, at $378.5 million in revenue
  • Physical audio was up 8.0 percent , at $10.7 million
Religious Presses

Religious press revenues were down 8.9 percent in June, coming in at $43.7 million.

On a year-to-date basis, religious press revenues were up 10.7 percent, at $333.3 million.


“The performance of the education categories during this month,” the AAP says in commentary, “may reflect multiple factors, including rebounding business” in June, a point at which it seemed to many early in the summer that the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic—still ongoing—was winding down.

“In addition,” the staff writes, “the percentage increase between June 2020 and June 2021 reflects the fact that school districts delayed purchases until later in the year during the pandemic”–which of course is not over.

Year-Over-Year Numbers

  • During June of 2021, education revenues were $534.1 million, up 13.3 percent compared with June of 2020
  • Revenues from higher education course materials were up 0.9 percent for the month as compared to June of 2020, at $203.0 million
  • PreK-12 instructional materials revenues were up 22.6 percent for June 2021, at $331.1 million

Year-to-Date Numbers

  • Education revenues were $2.0 billion, up 22.3 percent as compared to the first six months of 2020
  • Higher education was up 15.1 percent, at $1.2 billion
  • PreK-12 revenues were up 35.2 percent, at $774.0 million
Professional Books

Professional books, including business, medical, law, technical and scientific, were down 9.3 percent during the month of June, at $30.3 million.

Year-to-date, professional book revenues were $186.7 million, up 5.8 percent, as compared to the first six months of 2020.

Methodology Notes

From the association’s media messaging, “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

Facebook Twitter

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.