In the Association of American Publishers's first report on 2015 results, the organization found that industry sales fell 2.6% in the year compared to 2014. Revenue declined to $15.41 billion from $15.82 billion in 2014. The figures reflect sales reported by 1,205 publishers to AAP’s StatShot program; later this year AAP will release estimates for industry sales that include results from publishers that do not report to AAP.
Only two of the seven major segments had an increase in sales in the year. Sales of adult books rose 2.2% in 2015, to $4.9 billion, while sales of religious presses that report to AAP increased 1.2%, to $534.8 million.
The weakest performance in the year was in the higher educational course materials and K-12 instructional materials categories where sales fell 7.2% and 4.1%, respectively. Sales in the children’s/young adult category dropped 3.2% in the year with revenue from reporting companies dropping to $1.7 billion. Sales of university presses declined 3.1% and sales of professional books fell 0.8%, AAP reported.
Within the adult books category, sales were strongest in the downloadable audio format where sales rose 38.9% from reporting companies, to $205.6 million. Trade paperbacks, boosted by sales of adult coloring books, had a strong year with sales up 16.2%, to $1.4 billion. Sales at all other formats were down, most notably the e-book category where sales from reporting companies declined 9.5%. Mass market paperback sales dropped 7.3% in 2015 compared to 2014, while sales of physical audio declined 5.7%. Hardcover sales dipped 0.5%.
In the children’s/ya category, the 3.2% decline was due to a 43.3% drop in e-book sales (2014 e-book sales benefitted from huge sales in the Divergent series), which offset gains in board books (up 12.6%) and paperback (up 9.5%). Sales of hardcover in the segment fell 7.7%.