Tuesday, November 18, 2014

U.S. Book Sales Up 5.7% Over 2013

According to figures just released by the Association of American Publishers, book sales are doing surprisingly well these days, thank you.  ( I say "surprisingly" because of all the doom and gloom associated with most all of the recent projections having anything to do with publishing.)

Granted, the numbers are only through August 2014 sales, but a comparison with the same eight months in 2013 shows book sales having grown by almost 6% year over year.  Some genres, and some formats, are doing better than others, of course, and that's what makes the numbers interesting.

As measured in sales dollars (total sales of $10.7 billion):

  • Children's / YA e-books             Up 56.5%
  • Adult e-books                            Down 0.1%
  • Children's / YA board books      Up 47.1%
  • Children's / YA paperbacks       Up 21.2%
  • Children's / YA hardcovers        Up 18.3%
  • Adult paperbacks                      Down 0.7%
  • Adult hardcovers                       Down 7.2%
  • Mass Market                             Down 3.4%
  • University press hardcovers     Down 3.5%
  • University press paperbacks    Down 4.7%
  • University press e-books          Up 14.0%
  • Physical audiobooks                 Down 13.4%
  • Downloaded audiobooks          Up 27.7%
I suppose the best news is that, while adults may be buying fewer books for themselves, they have increased what they are spending on books for their children at a healthy clip.  As you can see from the numbers, all of the "Down" categories are in adult books - and all of the children's categories are "Up."

I find interesting, too, the obvious trend away from purchasing physical audio books to downloading them.  And, in the category of "very good news," the percentage gain on downloaded audio is more than twice the amount lost on physical sales of the books.

(For those who really enjoy number-crunching: combined sales of  "children's" categories were $1.08 billion, leaving $9.62 billion for all other categories.  Of this $9.62 billion, $0.014 billion is for audiobook sales and $0.007 billion for University Press sales.  So, despite being a mix of good news and bad news, the takeaway here is that Total Sales are up almost 6%.  And that's a good thing.


  1. It's nice to see book sales up in general even if adult sales are down. Though paperbacks are down only slightly. Can't say I am surprised hardcover sales are down since prices are getting so high. I remember when hardcovers cost what paperbacks do now! And I remember when mass markets could be had for $1.50 The good old days.

    1. I was thinking about that just the other day, in fact. Hardcovers of any size have now crossed the $30 line and that just floors me. I'm a pretty fast reader and I can read most fiction in just a few hours, so I start wondering where the cutoff line has to be. I usually only buy hardcovers any more if they are discounted or if I have a store coupon of some sort. And those tiny hardcovers going for $25 or so just amaze me...who buys them other than libraries?