AAP StatShot Shows the US Book Market Flat in May

In News by Porter Anderson

In the US, sales of books for adults and education were up in May, as children’s books slid again, per AAP’s StatShot.

A May morning at Norwalk, Connecticut. Image – Getty iStockphoto: MiroMiro

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

Downward Direction in Children’s Books Continues
In its May StatShot report released on July 19 during Publishing Perspectives’ summer publishing break, the Association of American Publishers (AAP) cites flat total revenues overall at US$846.8 million, in comparison to May 2022.

Year-to-date revenues, the AAP reports, were up 0.7 percent at $4.7 billion for the first five months of this year.

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

It’s interesting to note that while books for adults showed a net gain in May this year of 5.7 percent over May last year, books for children were down by 14.1 percent in May this year as compared to May 2022. An 11.3-percent rise in higher education course materials helped the overall picture stay flat, even as the downward direction in the children’s sector continued.

Trade Revenues

Year-Over-Year Numbers

Trade revenues were down 1.6 percent in May over the same month last year, at $661.3 million.

In print formats:

  • Hardback revenues were down 0.3 percent, coming in at $233.5 million
  • Paperbacks were down 3.6 percent, with $239.5 million in revenue
  • Mass market was down 41.2 percent to $6.1 million
  • Special bindings were down 21.5 percent, with $10.2 million in revenue

In digital formats:

  • Ebook revenues were 0.9 percent for the month as compared to May 2022 for a total of $81.1 million
  • The digital audio format was up 15.3 percent for May, coming in at $68.9 million in revenue
  • Physical audio was down 8.5 percent, coming in at $1.1 million

Year-to-Date Numbers

Year-to-date, the industry’s trade revenues were down 1.9 percent, at $3.4 billion for the first five months of the year.

In print formats:

  • Hardback revenues were down 3.5 percent, coming in at $ 1.2 billion
  • Paperbacks were down 2.2 percent, with $1.2 billion in revenue
  • Mass market was down 19.5 percent to $59.8 million
  • Special bindings were down 1.7 percent, with $69.6 million in revenue

In digital formats:

  • Ebook revenues were down 1.0 percent as compared to the first five months of 2022, for a total $414.0 million
  • The digital audio format was up 18 percent, at $345.8 million in revenue
  • Physical audio was down 23.2 percent, coming in at $4.6 million
Religious Press Performance

Year-Over-Year Numbers

Religious press revenues were down 7.8 percent in May, coming in at $59.9 million.

  • Hardback revenues were down 16.7 percent to $33.2 million in revenue
  • Paperback revenues were up 7.6 percent to $12.0 million
  • Ebook revenues were up 12.9 percent, coming in at $4.6 million
  • Digital audio revenues were down 9.6 percent at $4.0 million

Year-to-Date Numbers

On a year-to date basis, religious press revenues were down 0.4 percent, reaching $321.9 million.

  • Hardback revenues were down 3.8 percent at $186.0 million in revenue
  • Paperback revenues were up 4.2 percent to $62.7 million
  • Ebook revenues were down 3.1 percent at $24.0 million
  • Digital audio revenues were up 10.2 percent at $19.3 million
Education

During May 2023, revenues from higher education course materials rose 11.3 percent for the month, as compared to May 2022, coming in at $132.5 million, while year-to-date higher education course materials were up 12.3 percent, at $1.0 billion.

Professional Books

Professional books, including business, medical, law, technical and scientific, were down 8.4 percent during the month, coming in at $40.8 million.

Year-to-date professional books revenues were $203.3 million, down 3.5 percent as compared to the first five 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 United States 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 within 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

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.