AAP’s United States November StatShot: 8.3 Percent Up, Year Over Year

In News by Porter Anderson

Trade book sales in the United States were up 5.7 percent in November, at $990.4 million, per the Association of American Publishers.

A line forms at a COVID-19 testing site in Manhattan at 34th Street and Seventh Avenue, December 28. Image – Getty iStockphoto: Dmitry Vorobyev

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

Overall Industry Up 13.1 Percent in November 2021
In its November 2021 StatShot report– released to the new media on New Year’s Eve–the Association of American Publishers (AAP) cites total revenues across all categories up 8.3 percent over those of November 2020, at US$1.3 billion.

Year-to-date revenues, the AAP reports, were up 13.1 percent at $14.3 billion for the first 11 months of 2021.

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

Image: AAP

Trade sales were up 5.7 percent in November 2021, at $990.4 million.

In print formats:

  • Hardback revenues were down 1.5 percent, coming in at $455.1 million
  • Paperbacks were up 8.9 percent, with $277.0 million in revenue
  • Mass market was up 56.1 percent to $22.8 million
  • Board books were up 7.3 percent, with $23.0 million in revenue.

In digital formats:

  • Ebook revenues were up 5.6 percent for the month as compared to November 2020, for a total of $91.5 million
  • Downloaded audio was up 21.9 percent for November 2021, coming in at $68.3 million in revenue
  • Physical audio was down 37.5 percent, coming in at $2.6 million

As we like to point out with each of these reports, the special enthusiasm for downloaded audio is perfectly understandable after some nine years of double-digit growth like that seen in today’s report. However, downloaded audio accounts for just 6.9 percent of the overall trade market in the November 2021 report, something always worth keeping in mind for perspective.

Year-to-Date Numbers

  • Year-to-date, the industry’s trade revenues were 13.0 percent, at $8.7 billion for the first 11 months of 2021.

In print formats:

  • Hardback revenues were up 12.8 percent, coming in at $3.4 billion
  • Paperbacks were 19.9 percent, with $2.8 billion in revenue
  • Mass market was up 9.7 percent to $221.5 million
  • Board books were up 8.6 percent, with $192.3 million in revenue

In digital formats:

  • Ebook revenues were down 4.6 percent as compared to the first 11 months of 2020, for a total $984.0 million
  • The downloaded audio format was up 14.9 percent, at $700.3 million in revenue
  • Physical audio was down 15.5 percent coming in at $20.3 million
Religious Press Performance

Year Over Year Numbers

Religious press revenues were down 6.0 percent in November 2021, coming in at $65.6 million.

  • Hardback revenues were down 14.4 percent to $43.2 million in revenue
  • Paperback revenues were up 7.8 percent to $7.8 million
  • Ebook revenues were up 2.0 percent, coming in at $3.7 million
  • Downloaded audio revenues were up 26.3 percent at $4.1 million

Year-to-Date Numbers

On a year-to date basis, religious press revenues were up 12.0 percent, reaching $650.8 million.

  • Hardback revenues were 14.3 percent at $43.2 million in revenue
  • Paperback revenues were up 5.4 percent to $94.0 million
  • Ebook revenues were down 8.2 percent at $45.8 million
  • Downloaded audio revenues were up 9.4 percent at $37.0 million

During November 2021, education revenues were $220.3 million,  up 23.4 percent compared with November of 2020, and year-to-date education revenues were $5.1 billion, up 14.1 percent as compared to the first 11 months of 2020.

Revenues from higher education course materials were up 22.2 percent for the month of November 2021, as compared to November 2020, coming in at $146.5 million, while year-to-date higher education was up 2.3 percent, at $2.9 billion.

PreK-12 instructional materials revenues were 25.9 percent for November 2021, at $73.8 million.

Year-to-date PreK-12 revenues were up 35.0 percent, coming in at $2.2 billion. More in-depth information on PreK-12 books and materials monthly is included in AAP’s PreK-12 monthly report (accessible to AAP members). As the AAP team notes, the fact that 2021 was the second coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic year will have played a factor in the education sector’s performance.

Professional Books

Professional books, including business, medical, law, technical and scientific, were down 3.2 percent during the month, coming in at $27.0 million.

Year-to-date professional books revenues were $347.5 million, up 4.3 percent as compared to the first 11 months of 2020.


We’ll quote here the proverbial fine print provided on methodology for this report. We’ve edited only slightly, to minimize promotional language and to do away with a few gratuitous institutional capitalizations.

“AAP StatShot reports the monthly and yearly net revenue of publishing houses from United States 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 with other businesses, 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.”

The Coronavirus in the United States

On Broadway, December 22. New York City, for the second time since 2020, has become the US epicenter of the coronavirus’ concentration, as the omicron variant spikes infection statistics. Image – Getty iStockphoto: Masha Zolotukhina

As is happening in many world publishing markets, many American publishing companies’ plans to have employees return to their offices for full or part-time stints have been stymied by the quick uprush of COVID-19 cases driven by the B.1.1.529 “omicron” variant.

The Washington Post’s Fenit Nirappil is reporting tonight (January 2) that the Southeastern United States is expected to see “a firestorm of infection,” the variant having wreaked havoc in the Northeastern and mid-Atlantic areas to date.

New York City, the center of much of the US book-publishing industry, has been especially hard hit, becoming–for a second time–the epicenter of the pathogen’s assault. As Corey Kilgannon reports for The New York Times, the city’s new mayor, Eric Adams, has said that he may mandate “booster” injections for city workers. This, as Lloyd Austin, the American secretary of defense, has announced this evening that he has tested positive with mild symptoms. He in quarantine–fully vaccinated (including a booster as of early October), with no in-person meetings with the president, Joe Biden, since December 21.  Here is Nancy Youssef with that story at the Wall Street Journal.

In the southern states, there are particularly fast rises being recorded in hospitalization statistics reported in Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, and Mississippi.

At this writing, the 9:22 p.m. ET (0222 GMT Monday) update of the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center sees on a 28-day rolling basis, 5.8 million cases in the US population of 329.5 million, with 36,413 fatalities. During the full run of the pandemic, the States have reported a total 55.1 million cases and 826,060 deaths.

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.