The Association of American Publishers’ monthly sales estimates come with a number of caveats, the most important being the limited number of companies that participate—85 in all, with participation among the segments much smaller than that. Still, they have provided a useful tool in gauging how e-book sales and print sales are faring among the major trade houses (the big six all report). In its first report on 2011 sales, the AAP numbers show that e-book sales jumped 115.8%, to $69.9 million, at the 16 publishers that reported results. Big gains in e-books were expected following the strong sales of e-reading devices over the holidays, but the combination of soaring e-book sales and declining sales of print put e-book revenue ahead of both adult hardcover and mass market paperback sales in January.

With independent and smaller publishers not generating the e-book volume of the largest houses, sales of adult hardcover are certainly larger than e-books across the entire industry. The same, however, cannot be said for mass market paperbacks. The nine mass market houses that report results to the AAP account for the vast majority of mass market paperback sales. A year ago, when PW asked mass market executives when they thought e-book sales would surpass mass market, the earliest date was 2012. While sales of mass market paperbacks are likely to rally later in the year, it still appears that e-books will become the third largest trade format in 2011, much quicker than anyone anticipated.

AAP January Sales Report

CATEGORY Sales % Change Jan.
Adult Hard (17)* $49.1 -11.3%
Adult Paper (19) 83.6 -19.7
Mass Market (9) 39.0 -30.9
Juvenile Hard (14) 31.2 -1.9
Juvenile Paper (14) 25.4 -17.7
Audio (20) 7.3 -6.7
Aud. Download (14) 6.5 8.8
Electronic (16) 69.9 115.8
Religious (18) 45.4 6.8
Higher Ed. (9) 382.0 -1.4
Univ. Pr. Hard (33) 3.9 -14.0
Univ. Pr. Paper (33) 6.2 -7.8
Professional (8) 51.8 1.3
Elhi (9) 82.6 -14.9

(Measured in $ sales against same time periods, 2010)
* Number of reporting companies