With e-book and total digital sales posting steady—if generally smaller—increases in 2012, sales of print books held up fairly well across the book trade and at most major houses. The Association of American Publishers’ StatShot program showed that sales of adult print books fell by less than 1% in the year at the 1,193 companies that report data, while sales of e-books increased 33.2%. The trade paperback format posted a sales increase in the year, while sales of hardcovers and mass market paperbacks fell. E-books represented 25.8% of all sales in the adult trade segment in 2012, up from 20.4% at reporting StatShot publishers in 2011. In children’s/YA, e-book sales rose 120.9% to $232.8 million and represented 13.8% of segment sales.
At six of the largest publishers (those where full-year data was available), digital sales in 2012 rose between 23.9% and 127.3% over the previous year, while sales of print books ranged from a decline of 12.9% to an increase of 15.3%.
Sales of both formats were affected by more than just a shift in book-buying behavior of course. Random House, as has been well documented, had a record year, led by sales of the Fifty Shades trilogy, which helped to boost worldwide print sales 15.3%, while total digital revenue jumped by over 63%. Digital accounted for about 20% of RH’s worldwide sales last year and 25% of its U.S. sales. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s trade division posted gains in print and digital last year as well, with both benefiting from the late 2012 acquisition of cookbooks and reference titles from John Wiley. HMH’s digital sales had the biggest jump in the year among the six publishers, albeit from with lowest 2011 sales figure. Print sales lost the most ground at Harlequin, falling almost 13% in 2012, more than offsetting an almost 24% rise in digital sales. The decline in print sales accelerated last year, from a drop of 10% in 2011, while the growth rate of digital fell from 113%.
Among the publishers that provided comprehensive data for 2010, two others also had significant declines in their digital growth rates. Digital sales rose 43.2% at Penguin Group last year, down from a 98% increase in 2011, and that category declined to 35.8% at Simon & Schuster, from 112%. At both companies, however, the drop in print sales slowed, from 7% to 5% at Penguin, and from 10% to 6.9% at S&S. Digital sales at Penguin Group USA represented about 30% of revenue in 2012, up from 20% in 2011, and accounted for 17% of worldwide sales, up from 12%.
Print sales were basically flat at Lagardère Publishing last year and digital revenue rose 36.2%. The digital performance at Lagardère varied widely from division to division. At its U.S. subsidiary, Hachette Book Group, digital accounted for 26% of revenue in the year, up from 23% in 2011; digital also accounted for more than 20% of sales in the U.K. In France, Lagardere’s largest market, digital contributed less than 2% of revenues.
Financial reporting about HarperCollins is a bit uneven as parent company News Corp. prepares to split itself up. Moreover, HC’s figures are significantly impacted by the purchase of Thomas Nelson, which was the primary reason for the 18.2% increase in total revenues in the fourth quarter of calendar year 2012 (HC’s second fiscal quarter) compared to the year-earlier period. Digital sales rose 59.4% in the period, while print sales increased 12.9%.
Publisher Sales by Format, 2011–2012
|Random House Worldwide|
|Simon & Schuster|
|Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Trade|
|HarperCollins (fourth quarter only)|
Trade Sales, 2011–2012