AAP StatShot: US Market up Slightly Year-to-Date, March Down 4.2 Percent

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March trade revenues across all other categories came to US$804.4 million, down 4.2 percent from the figure for March 2021.

On the High Line elevated walking park in New York City, April 22. Image – Getty iStockphoto: Thomas de Wever

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

Hardback Revenues Down 19 Percent
Iin its StatShot report released this morning (May 27), the Association of American Publishers (AAP) for March 2022, released for publication today (May 27), trade revenues are seen falling 6.4 percent, but are up 2.0 percent, year-to-date.

Delays in data collection mean that March PreK-12 revenue is not included in this report.

March trade revenues across all other categories came to US$804.4 million, which is down 4.2 percent from the figure for March 2021. Year-to-date revenues up that slight 2.2 percent, came in at $3.0 billion for Q1. 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

That step back of 6.4 percent translates to $702.5 million. And what to watch for is just below: Look at this big drop in hardback sales from last year’s March figures.

In print formats:

  • Hardback revenues were down 19 percent, coming in at $238.1 million
  • Paperbacks were up 8.6 percent, at $266.0 million in revenue
  • Mass market was down 30.7 percent to $14.3 million
  • Special bindings were down 17.6 percent, with $12.7 million in revenue

Paper formats, according to a note from the association’s team, “still account for 75.6 percent of all trade sales. And–as was discussed in an audiobook and podcast panel Publishing Perspectives moderated this month at the Jerusalem International Book Fair, a part of what’s reflected in that paper-formats observation may have to do with the fact that downloadable audio—so loudly praised for its gains on the market—in March came in at 9.0 percent of the overall trade, trailing ebooks at 10.9 percent. (See the graphic to the right.)

In digital formats:

  • Ebook revenues were down 12.2 percent for the month as compared to March 2021 for a total of $76.9 million
  • Downloaded audio was up 8.4 percent for March, at $63.5 in revenue
  • Physical audio was down 20.1 percent, at $1.3 million

Year-to-Date Numbers

  • Year-to-date, the industry’s trade revenues were up 2.0 percent, at $2.1 billion for the first three months of the year.

In print formats:

  • Hardback revenues were down 3.0 percent, coming in at $740.6 million
  • Paperbacks were up 14.6 percent, with $763.5 million in revenue
  • Mass market was down 20.1 percent to $49.4 million
  • Special bindings were down 3.1 percent, with $43.6 million in revenue

In digital formats:

  • Ebook revenues were down 9.8 percent as compared to the first three months of 2021 for a total of $249.3 million
  • The downloaded audio format was up 2.7 percent, coming in at $194.5 million in revenue
  • Physical audio was down 23.4 percent coming in at $3.7 million
Religious Press Performance

Year Over Year Numbers

Religious press revenues were down 11.0 percent in March, coming in at $52.1 million.

  • Hardback revenues were down 15.9 percent to $32.0 million in revenue
  • Paperback revenues were up 7.3 percent to $7.9 million
  • Ebook revenues were down 6.0 percent coming in at $3.9 million
  • Downloaded audio revenues were down 2.4 percent at $2.8 million

Year-to-Date Numbers

On a year-to-date basis, religious press revenues were down 4.0 percent, reaching $174.3 million.

  • Hardback revenues were down 8.0 percent at $106.0 million in revenue
  • Paperback revenues were up 13.4 percent to $26.9 million
  • Ebook revenues were down 9.4 percent at $11.8 million
  • Downloaded audio revenues were down 10.6 percent at $9.9 million
Education

During March 2022, revenues from higher education course materials were $68.6 million, up 38.3 percent compared with March 2021.

Year-to-date higher education course materials revenues were $737.4 million, unchanged compared to the first three months of 2021.

The Association of American Publishers adds a note: “The performance of the education categories during this month may reflect multiple factors, including rebounding business post-COVID.”

We would like to point out that the world is not yet “post-COVID.” The World Health Organization and national public health agencies of most if not all nations do not consider the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic nor its emergency to have concluded. In the United States’ market, the subject of the StatShot reports, new cases have risen this month (May 2022) to 124,584 on May 26 from 74,612 one month earlier, on April 25, as reported today by The New York Times.

Professional Books

Professional books, including business, medical, law, technical and scientific, were down 22.8 percent during the month, coming in at $25.2 million.

Year-to-date professional books revenues were $86.8 million, down 8.4 percent as compared to the first three months of 2021.

Methodology

We’ll excerpt here from 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 US sales to bookstores, wholesalers, direct to consumer, online retailers, and other channels.

  • “The pool of StatShot participants may fluctuate from report to report [this month’s report coming from some 1,366 publishers]
  • “Like 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’s 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 is a non-resident fellow of Trends Research & Advisory, and he 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 (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.

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