AAP StatShot August: US Book Industry Up 8.5 Percent

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Year-to-date revenues were up 0.6 percent. The digital audio format remained up at 5.7 percent in August, at US$68.2 million.

An August view of shipping containers in the Port of Los Angeles. Image – Getty iStockphoto: Joseph Tointon

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

Year to Date, a Rise of 0.6 Percent
Catching up now on a Frankfurt-delayed look at the August 2023 StatShot report, the Association of American Publishers (AAP) cites total book publishing revenues across all categories up 8.5 percent over August 2022.

Year-to-date revenues, the AAP reports, were up 0.6 percent at US$8.0 billion.

One bright spot, as discerned by Katy Hershberger at Publishers Lunch, is that children’s and YA formats were seen to have sold $215 million overall, which is a 3.8-percent gain over August 2022.  The best part of this news is that it represented a turnaround from the downward trend in children’s and YA.

We also note that in returns, adult books saw 15.8-percent fewer returns than the industry charted in August 2022, and 16.2 percent fewer in children’s and YA.

University presses registered a 64.3-percent net-sales jump in hardbacks in August this year over August of 2022, and a reduction of returns year over year of 29.2 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 (Consumer Books)

Year-Over-Year Numbers
Trade revenues were up 8.9 percent in August over the same month last year, at $785.0 million.

Image: Association of American Publishers

In print formats:

  • Hardback revenues were 17.4 percent, coming in at $277.8 million
  • Paperbacks were up 8.9 percent, with $295.1 million in revenue
  • Mass market was down 19.1 percent to $12.2 million
  • Special bindings were 15.0 percent, with $19.6 million in revenue

In digital formats:

  • Ebook revenues were down 3.7 percent for the month as compared to August 2022 for a total of $87.1 million
  • The avidly watched digital audio format was up 5.7 percent for August 2023, coming in at $68.2 million in revenue
  • Physical audio was up 21.1 percent, coming in at $1.3 million

Year-to-Date Numbers
Year-to-date, the industry’s trade revenues were down 0.5 percent, at $5.5 billion for the first eight months of the year.
In print formats:

  • Hardback revenues were up 0.7 percent, coming in at $1.8 billion
  • Paperbacks were down 2.0 percent, with $2.0 billion in revenue
  • Mass market was up down 22.1 percent to $98.1 million
  • Special bindings were up 1.0 percent, with $116.3 million in revenue

In digital formats:

  • Ebook revenues were down 1.0 percent as compared to the first eight months of 2022, for a total $666.9 million
  • The digital audio format was up 15.4 percent, at $559.0 million in revenue
  • Physical audio was down 10.9 percent, coming in at $8.0 million
Religious Press Performance

Year-Over-Year Numbers

Religious press revenues were 36.3 percent in August, coming in at $84.2 million.

  • Hardback revenues were  up 44.8 percent to $54.2 million in revenue
  • Paperback revenues were up  39.5 percent to $15.7 million
  • Ebook revenues were down 6.5 percent, coming in at $4.5 million
  • Digital audio revenues were 0.8 percent at $3.9 million

Year-to-Date Numbers

On a year-to date basis, religious press revenues were up 4.8 percent, reaching $504.7 million.

  • Hardback revenues were up 4.6 percent at $294.2 million in revenue
  • Paperback revenues were 4.1 percent to $104.1 million
  • Ebook revenues were down 4.4 percent at $36.7 million
  • Digital audio revenues were up 6.1 percent at $30.3 million
Education

During August 2023, revenues from higher education course materials were up 7.2 percent for the month, as compared to August 2o22, coming in at $607.9 million, while year-to-date higher education was up 4.2 percent, at $2.1 billion.

Professional Books

Professional books, including business, medical, law, technical and scientific, were up 8.7 percent during the month, coming in at $41.9 million.

Year-to-date professional books revenues were $330.6 million, down 2.4 percent as compared to the first eight 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 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 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.

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