March StatShot: US Book Industry Up 3.2 Percent Year-to-Date

In News by Porter Anderson

The AAP StatShot figures for March 2023 arrive with trade revenues up 0.2 percent for the month of March, 1.1 percent year-to-date.

At Independence, California, March 9. Image – Getty iStockphoto: T. Schofield

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

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

Month of March Trade Up 6.6 Percent
As you’ll recall, the monthly StatShot report from the Association of American Publishers (AAP) lags the calendar by a couple of months. So it is that we know today (June 9) that in March, the StatShot report released this week cites the overall United States industry up 6.6 percent in all categories as compared to March 2022.

Year-to-date revenues, the AAP reports, revenues were up 3.2 percent at US$3.2 billion for the first three months of the year.

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

Trade Revenues

Year-Over-Year Numbers

Image: AAP

Trade revenues (reflecting consumer sales) were up a scant 0.2 percent in March, at $710.9 million

In print formats:

  • Hardback revenues were down 1.0 percent, coming in at $243 million
  • Paperbacks were up 0.3 percent, with $268.2 million in revenue
  • Mass market was down 9.5 percent t0 $13.0 million
  • Special bindings were up 21.9 percent, with $18.9 million in revenue

In digital formats:

  • Ebook revenues were up 12.2 percent for the month as compared to March 2022 for a total of $88.1 million
  • The avidly watched downloaded audio format was 14.1 percent for March, coming in at $66.2 million in revenue, but nevertheless holding a very typical 9.3-percent share of the market, despite what the Audio Publishers Association has pointed out is an 11th year of double-digit growth
  • Physical audio was down again, of course–in its years-long descent under the inexorable popularity of downloaded audio–this time a decline of 43.4 percent to produce just $700,000

Year-to-Date Numbers

Year-to-date, the industry’s trade revenues were up 1.1 percent at $2.2 billion for the first three months of the year.

In print formats:

  • Hardback revenues were down 2.4 percent, coming in at $744.4 million
  • Paperbacks were up 3.0 percent, with $794.6 million in revenue
  • Mass market was up down 17.6 percent to $40.9 million
  • Special bindings were up 0.9 percent, with $51.6 million in revenue

In digital formats:

  • Ebook revenues were up 3.3 percent as compared to the first three months of 2022, for a total $260.7 million
  • The downloaded audio format was up 18.4 percent at $211.8 million in revenue
  • Physical audio was down 30.1 percent, coming in at $2.5 million
Religious Press Performance

Year-Over-Year Numbers

Religious press revenues were up 2.3 percent in March, coming in at $64.1 million.

  • Hardback revenues were down 5.8 percent to $35.5 million in revenue
  • Paperback revenues were up 7.9 percent to $12.7 million
  • Ebook revenues were down 10.9 percent, coming in at $5.0 million
  • Digital audio revenues were up 36.7 percent at $3.9 million

Year-to-Date Numbers

On a year-to date basis, religious press revenues were up 3.1 percent, reaching $211.3 million.

  • Hardback revenues were up 1.3 percent at $123.8 million in revenue
  • Paperback revenues were up 4.5 percent to $42.3 million
  • Ebook revenues were down 6.0 percent at $14.9 million
  • Downloaded audio revenues were up 16.9 percent at $11.6 million
Education

During March 2023, revenues from higher education course materials were $121.0 million, up 74.0 percent compared with March 2022.

Year-to-date, higher education course material revenues were $827.2 million, up 10.8 percent compared to the first three months of 2022.

Professional Books

Professional books, including business, medical, law, technical and scientific, were up 7.9 percent during the month, coming in at $41.5 million.

Year-to-date professional books revenues were $125.7 million, down 2.3 percent as compared to the first three months of 2022.

Methodology

We’ll quote here notes on the methodology for this report. We’ve edited only slightly, to minimize promotional language and to do away with a few 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. StatShot draws revenue data from approximately 1,240 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 in a given StatShot report.

“Monthly and yearly StatShot reports may not align completely across reporting periods, because:

  • “The pool of StatShot participants may fluctuate from report to report
  • “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 previously reported.”


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 2021 are seen, is here.

A note about our reporting on the United States’ market: Because Publishing Perspectives is a news medium dedicated to covering the international book publishing industry, we report on news from the United States as information that’s important in world publishing. The States’ book market is the largest in the world. We do not, however, report on the American industry as “our” industry. In contacting us, US book-business publicists will want to ask themselves what international angle may be a part of that news. Our international readership of book-business executives, rights directors, international rights agents, scouts, and other professionals sees the United States as we do: an important and leading influencer in world publishing, but not a “home” market.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

Facebook Twitter Google+

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 (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.