Last week, the Association of American Publishers released its final sales estimates for 2014, putting a wrap on industry data for the year. The AAP figures largely confirmed trends seen in previous data: strong growth in the children’s/young adult segment, a dip in sales of adult trade titles, declines in hardcover and mass market paperbacks, slow e-book growth, and higher sales in both online and physical retailers.
Overall, the AAP found that total U.S. book sales hit $27.98 billion in 2014, up 4.6% compared to 2013, while unit sales increased 3.7%, to 2.7 billion. The biggest sales increase came in the K–12 instructional materials segment, where sales rose 9.9%. Sales in the professional segment increased 4.6%.
Sales in the trade category rose 4.2% over the previous year, while unit sales increased 3.7%, and trade remained the largest category, with revenue from the year at $15.43 billion. AAP includes religion publishing in the trade category, along with adult and children’s sales. As AAP’s earlier data had shown, the fastest-growing category in the trade segment was children’s/young adult, where sales rose 20.9%, to $4.39 billion, and units increased 13.5%. Revenue of adult books fell 1.6% in 2014, as sales in the adult fiction segment fell 2.0% and nonfiction sales dropped 1.1%.
The StatShot Annual showed that after slightly declining in 2013, total e-book sales increased 3.8%, to an estimated $3.37 billion dollars, in 2014, although units rose only 0.2%. The discrepancy in dollar and unit growth reflects higher e-book prices. Most of the e-book sales captured by AAP came in the trade segment, where sales rose 3.7%, to $3.36 billion.
E-book sales do not include sales through subscription services, and AAP estimated that subscription sales were more than $20 million, based on reports from about 20 publishers. Downloadable audio sales grew 26.8% in the year, and sales of subscription audio rose 26.5%. AAP estimated that 3.88 million audiobooks were sold through subscription services, while 2.47 million e-books were sold this way.
Looking at the performance of the major trade channels, online retailers had an 8.1% sales gain; they are the largest trade channel, with sales of $5.89 billion, representing 38.2% of trade sales. Sales through intermediaries—largely wholesalers and distributors—inched ahead, growing 0.5%. Direct sales, which include publishers’ direct-to-consumer efforts, fell 5.9%.
For both 2013 and 2014, estimates for the entire industry are based on actual sales supplied by about 1,800 U.S. publishers, from which AAP extrapolates by using a variety of sources to estimate sales for publishers that don’t report data. AAP took over the creation of annual sales statistics this year, after its agreement with BISG to develop industry data through BookStats was not renewed.
Industry Category Sales, 2013–2014
($ in millions)
|K-12 Instr. Materials||3,841.4||4,219.6||9.9%|
|Higher Ed. Materials||4,809.1||4,915.5||2.2%|
Trade Book Sales by Format
($ in millions)
|Mass Market Paperback||856.2||834.7||-2.5%|
|Downloadable Audio (subscription)||23.6||29.8||26.5%|
Trade Sales by Channel
($ in millions)