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.