AAP StatShot: US Book Trade Was ‘High-Performing’ in April

In News by Porter Anderson

The April 2024 StatShot report from the Association of American Publishers tracks especially strong performance in digital audio.

Listening to audio at Pacific Beach, San Diego. Image – Getty iStockphoto Sandro Montefusco

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

US Digital Audio Sales Are Up 29 Percent Year-To-Date
In its October 2021 StatShot report released this morning (June 17), the Association of American Publishers (AAP) cites total revenues across all categories up 18.3 percent as compared to April 2023, coming in at US$947.5 million.

Year-to-date revenues, the AAP reports, were up 4.2 percent, at $4.1 billion for the first four months of the year.

In its summary for the newly released April report, StatShot authors write that the data indicates “a marked increase of almost 16 percent in net sales. The first quarter of 2024 was relatively flat, but because of a significant increase in several categories, we see a resurgence.”

As Publishing Perspectives readers know, the AAP’s numbers reflect reported revenue for tracked categories including trade (consumer books); religious presses; higher education course materials; preK-12 instructional materials; and professional publishing.

Trade Revenue

In its summary for the newly released April report, StatShot authors write, “Trade was high-performing, considering a 21-percent increase, including a 55-percent increase in the digital audio format.”

The its analysis, the StatShot summary reassures its industry readers that “hardbacks and paperbacks continue to be the preferred format (35 percent of the total each), and did well with 17-percent and 20-percent increases respectively. Ebook sales trends also had a strong increase in trade, with a 17-percent increase in April 2024” by comparison to April 2023.

“While children’s and young adult net sales grew moderately by 5.5 percent in April” of this year over April 2023, “fiction books in this category increased 9.5 percent. Nonfiction books, on the other hand, saw a decline of 10.6 percent. However, within the category, digital audio spiked an increase of 42 percent in both fiction and non-fiction sub-categories.

“Hardback and paperback sales for children’s and young adults’ nonfiction decreased 7 percent and 18 percent respectively. Although it only makes up 5 percent of sales in this category, it’s worth noting that ebooks increased 3 percent in net sales.”

The report points out that children’s and young adult books remain down 6.3 percent year-to=date, but the strength of this new report’s April sales “has slowed the downturn.”

And the analysis adds a note that digital audio sales are up a substantial 29 percent year-to-date.

Year-Over-Year Numbers
Trade revenues were up 20.6 percent in April, coming in at $725.1 million over the same month last year.

Image: Association of American Publishers

In print formats:

  • Hardback revenues were up 16.6 percent, coming in at $252.6 million
  • Paperbacks were up 20.3 percent, with $249.9 million in revenue
  • Mass market was down 34.5 percent to $8.2 million
  • Special bindings were down 3.6 percent, with $62.9 million in revenue

In digital formats:

  • Ebook revenues up 16.8 percent for the month as compared to April 2023, for a total of $83.1 million
  • The closely watched digital audio format  was up 54.6 percent for April, coming in at $100.0 million in revenue
  • Physical audio was down 15.0 percent coming in at $800,000

Year-to-Date Numbers

Year-to-date, the industry’s trade revenues were up 2.3 percent, at $2.8 billion for the first four months of the year.

Adult fiction and nonfiction grew 27 percent and 22 percent in gross sales, respectively, the report’s authors write. “This brings their gross year-to-date performance to 8.5 percent and 0.9 percent respectively. Because of 7 percent and 5 percent in returns, the year-to-date sales for adult fiction are 8.7-percent higher in 2024 compared to 2023, and adult nonfiction net sales remain relatively flat.”

In print formats:

  • Hardback revenues were down 0.2 percent, coming in at $985.3 million
  • Paperbacks were up 1.6 percent, with $1.0 billion in revenue
  • Mass market was down 27.8 percent to $39.2 million
  • Special bindings were  up 15.2 percent at $17.7 million

In digital formats:

  • Ebook revenues were up 2.3 percent as compared to the first four months of 2023 for a total of $338.1 million
  • The digital audio format was up 24.5 percent, coming in at $343.5 million in revenue
  • Physical audio was down 19.8 percent coming in at $2.9 million
Religious Press Performance

Year-Over-Year Numbers

Religious press revenues were  up 38.2 percent in April, coming in at $68.5 million.

  • Hardback revenues were up 41.5 percent to $40.5 million in revenue
  • Paperback revenues were up 38.5 percent to $12.7 million
  • Ebook revenues were up 1.0 percent, coming in at $4.3 million
  • Digital audio revenues were up 33.0 percent at $4.9 million

Year-to-Date Numbers

On a year-to date basis, religious press revenues were up 11.7 percent, at $282.9 million.

  • Hardback revenues were up 14.2 percent at $170.5 million in revenue
  • Paperback revenues were up 6.3 percent to $54.5 million
  • Ebook revenues were up 5.3 percent at $19.4 million
  • Digital audio revenues were up 15.2 percent at $17.7 million
Education

During April 2024, revenues from higher education course materials were up 17.7 percent compared with April 2023, coming in at $$78.9 million, while year-to-date higher education was up 12.4 percent compared to the first four months of 2023, at $781.2 million.

Professional Books

Professional books, including business, medical, law, technical and scientific content, were up 6.7 percent during the month, coming in at $36.9 million.

Year-to-date professional book revenues were $148.4 million, down 0.7 percent as compared to the first four months of 2023.

About the AAP StatShot Reports

The StatShot program provides this statement: “The Association of American Publishers’ 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 1,280 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: (a) the pool of StatShot participants may fluctuate from report to report; and (b) 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.