US Book Publishing Revenues in 2022 Were $28 Billion: AAP StatShot

In News by Porter Anderson

Still 8.6 percent above 2019 revenues, the US book market in 2022 was 2.6 percent below 2021’s revenue level, the AAP reports.

The 2022 ‘StatShot Annual’ report indicates that direct sales grew 12.3 percent in 2022, to US$7.23 billion. Image: Association of American Publishers, ‘StatShot Annual 2022’

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

 Paperbacks Outsold Hardbacks, First Time Since 2014
Today’s release (May 31) of the Association of American Publishers‘ (AAP) annual StatShot report for 2022 cites total revenues of US$28.10 billion. That represents a 2.6-percent decline compared to 2021, but the association is stressing that the total industry has nevertheless remained 8.6 percent higher than the $25.87 billion recorded for the year 2019 prior to the arrival of the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.

Syreeta Swann, COO for the association, says in a prepared comment on the release of these numbers, “During the year the publishing industry continued to show considerable resilience, with total revenues still above pre-pandemic levels.

“The fact that the five-year trend also shows consistent growth suggests that the industry is well-positioned to weather a challenging economic environment and an evolving marketplace over the long haul.”

The entire report is available for purchase at US$445 here. As you will read in our methodology notes at the end of this article, Management Practice, the AAP statistics partner on this, warrants that the figures are “accurate at a 95-percent confidence level, plus or minus 5 percentage points.”

Key Points in the New Report
  • The industry-wide revenue decline of 2.6 percent during the year represents a change of US$28.85 billion in 2021 to $28.10 billion in 2022
  • During 2022, the book industry’s largest category, trade (consumer books), decreased by 6.6 percent to $17.36 billion in terms of estimated revenue
  • Higher education revenue decreased 7.2 percent to $3.18 billion
  • PreK–12 education increased 16.6 percent to $5.61 billion
  • Professional books decreased by 6.0 percent to $1.47 billion
  • Religious presses, a subcategory of the trade sector, decreased 6.0 percent to $1.27 billion
  • University presses, the smallest category reported, declined by 7.7 percent to $414 million
Trends in 2022 Retail

As part of its overview, the annual StatShot report for 2022 shows publishers’ online sales in the United States exceeded physical-retail sales.

  • Revenue attributed to physical retail was $5.22 billion for 2022, a drop of 5.8 percent on a year-over-year basis
  • Revenue attributable to online retail—which includes both physical and digital books—was $8.19 billion, a decline of 12.4 percent as compared to 2021
Revenue Channels Showing Increases

Image: Association of American Publishers, ‘StatShot Annual 2022’

Three channels are listed as showing increased levels of revenue in 2022:

  • Direct sales, which grew 12.3 percent to $7.23 billion
  • The intermediary channel, which was up 0.7 percent to $5.05 billion
  • The “other channels,” as AAP puts it, which increased 13.1 percent to $1.16 billion
Trends in 2022 Book Formats

Image: Association of American Publishers, ‘StatShot Annual 2022’

  • Digital audio revenue–which has increased “steadily since 2012,” as the association puts it–rose 2.6 percent in 2022 to $1.81 billion.
  • Ebooks again were seen making a decline, falling 8.5 percent to $1.95 billion
  • In 2022, paperbacks outsold hardbacks for the first time since 2014
Five-Year Trends in US Publishing

Overall, the 2022 report tells us, the industry’s revenue grew 11.0 percent between 2018 and 2022, and in various sectors:

  • Revenue in the industry’s largest category, trade (consumer books), grew 9.7 percent during the period
  • Religious presses, a part of trade, decreased 2.4 percent
  • Higher education revenue decreased by 18.0 percent
  • PreK–12 education revenue increased 67.4 percent
  • Professional books revenue decreased by 20.6 percent
  • University presses, the smallest category reported, increased by 3.9 percent

Industry revenues by format between 2018 and 2022 indicated:

  • Revenue from hardbacks increased 4.1 percent during the five-year period
  • Revenue from paperbacks increased 15.6 percent between 2018 and 2022
  • Mass market revenue declined a total of 37.7 percent
  • Ebook revenue decreased 2.5 percent during the five-year period
  • Revenue from instructional materials–which includes textbooks, workbooks, review books, standardized tests, digital textbooks, and course materials as well as online tools such as homework managers–increased 13.0 percent
  • Digital audio revenue increased by 71.7 percent
  • The growth in digital audio revenue continues to overtake physical audio, which declined by 69.8 percent during the five-year period
Notes on Methodology

Here is the text provided by the Association of American Publishers about how the annual report is created, lightly edited as usual.

“The StatShot Annual Report is based on data prepared by Management Practice, AAP’s statistics partner, and offers a financial overview of the United States’ book publishing industry that is more than the sum of AAP’s monthly statistics analyses.

“‘StatShot Annual’ employs a unique methodology that combines annual data submitted by publishers and distributors, along with market modeling, to estimate the total volume of the US publishing industry.

“Additionally, ‘StatShot Annual’ reports estimated revenue and unit sales in the following market segments:

  • “Trade (consumer books)
  • “Higher education
  • “PreK-12
  • “Professional
  • “University Presses

“AAP (or its predecessor) has provided this service in a variety of forms since 1947. Participants are listed at the end of the full report. Management Practice states that the results of the survey are accurate at a 95-percent confidence level, plus or minus 5 percentage points. Percentages may not add to 100 percent  because of rounding.”

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, which factors into how comparisons to performance in 2022 are seen, 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 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.