AAP StatShot: US Book Sales Up 1.2 Percent in First Half of 2023

In News by Porter Anderson

The year’s first half showed US book sales up, but June revenue was down 0.9 percent, at $4.1 billion; children’s and YA were down 6.3 percent.

At Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Image – Getty iStockphoto: Carlos R

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

Digital Audio Up 17.7 Percent, January Through June
In its June 2023 StatShot report released Tuesday (August 22), the Association of American Publishers (AAP) cites total revenues across all categories down 1.3 percent for June and up 1.2 percent year-to-date. Year-to-date revenues, the AAP reports, with that 1.2 percent increase, stood at US$5.6 billion for the first six months of 2023.

Perhaps one of the most interesting performance pairings from the start of beach-reading season in the United States is between children’s (and young adult, YA) content as compared to adult in a year-over-year comparison.

In June 2023, children’s saw a drop of 15.2 percent in young readers’ content over June 2022. In adult content, however, there was a 5.9-percent gain over the 2022 numbers. In the year-to-date comparison for the first six months of the year, children’s and YA was down 6.3 percent, with adult content up 1.6 percent.

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.

Trade Revenues

Trade revenues were down in June by 0.9 percent over the same month last year, at $633.5 million.

Year-Over-Year Numbers

In print formats:

  • Hardback revenues were up 5.8 percent, coming in at $191.2 million
  • Paperbacks were down 3.0 percent, with $246.0 million in revenue
  • Mass market was down 39.1 percent to $13.0 million
  • Special bindings were up 2.5 percent, with $11.1 million in revenue

In digital formats:

  • Ebook revenues were down 3.9 percent for the month as compared to June 2022 for a total of $79.9 million
  • The digital audio format was up at 15.3 percent for June 2023, coming in at $74.1 million in revenue
  • Physical audio was up 9.5 percent, coming in at $1.1 million

Year-to-Date Numbers

Year-to-date, the industry’s trade revenues were down 0.9 percent, at $4.1 billion for the first half of the year.
In print formats:

  • Hardback revenues were down 2.0 percent, coming in at $1.4 billion
  • Paperbacks were down 1.0 percent, with $1.5 billion in revenue
  • Mass market was up down 23.9 percent to $72.8 million
  • Special bindings were down 0.1 percent, with $80.8 million in revenue

In digital formats:

  • Ebook revenues were down 1.3 percent as compared to the first half of 2022, for a total $493.8 million
  • The digital audio format was 17.7 percent in the first six months of the year, at $419.9 million in revenue
  • Physical audio was down 18.2 percent, coming in at $5.6 million
Religious Press Performance

Year-Over-Year Numbers

Religious press revenues were 3.9 percent in June, coming in at $46.9 million.

  • Hardback revenues were down 3.7 percent to $24.9 million in revenue
  • Paperback revenues were down 3.8 percent to $10.0 million
  • Ebook revenues were down 14.1 percent, coming in at $4.1 million
  • Digital audio revenues were down 8.7 percent at $3.7 million

Year-to-Date Numbers

On a year-to date basis, religious press revenues were down 1.2 percent, reaching $368.2 million in the first half of this year.

  • Hardback revenues were down 4.1 percent at $211.0 million in revenue
  • Paperback revenues were up 1.1 percent to $77.5 million
  • Ebook revenues were down 4.7 percent at $27.9 million
  • Digital audio revenues were up 6.8 percent at $23.0 million
Education

During June 2023, revenues from higher education course materials were up 0.1 percent for the month, as compared to June 2022, coming in at $202.4 million, while year-to-date higher education revenues were up 10.1 percent, at $1.2 billion by comparison to the first half of 2022..

Professional Books

Professional books, including business, medical, law, technical and scientific, were down 11.2 percent during the month, coming in at $46.0 million.

Year-to-date professional books revenues were $249.3 million, down 3.2 percent as compared to the first half 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.

“The Association of American Publishers’ 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 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.