Book sales fell 1.8% in 2009, to $23.86 billion, according to estimates released last week by the Association of American Publishers. To no one’s surprise, the biggest gain came in the e-book segment, where sales are estimated to have reached $313.2 million. The e-book segment was one of four categories to post an increase in 2009, with the other three segments adult hardcover, juvenile paperback, and higher education. The 6.9% increase in adult hardcover—the largest trade segment— followed a 13% decline in 2008, putting adult hardcover sales approximately back to the level of 2006.
The mass market paperback segment suffered another sales decline last year, with sales falling to $1.04 billion. Between 2002 and 2009, sales in the mass market paperback segment fell at a compound annual rate of 2.2%, and there is a distinct possibility sales in the category could fall below $1 billion in 2010. After peaking at $220 million in 2008, sales of spoken-word audio declined 12.9% in 2009, to $192 million, according to the AAP. The Audio Publishers Association, which has more members that publish audio than the AAP, will release its 2009 statistics at the end of May. In 2008, its 30 members reported sales of $331 million, with more than 20% of that total coming from digital downloads.
AAP generates its figures from actual sales from 86 companies that participate in its statistics program and then works with Census Bureau data to estimate the size of the marketplace. The other industry group that usually compiles statistics, the Book Industry Study Group, has used different methodologies the past two years and is once again reviewing its statistics program. Although executive director Scott Lubeck said measuring the size of the book market is a high priority for BISG, he wasn’t sure the association will publish a new report this year. Lubeck said BISG is working to find a way to deliver statistics in a timely and accurate way that reflects the way the publishing cycle operates now.