Gains in the trade and religion segments were offset by declines in the other publishing categories, leading to a small (0.4%) decline in industry sales in 2018, according to the Association of American Publishers’ StatShot program. Total revenue for the 1,375 reporting publishers was $14.55 billion in 2018, down $57 million from 2017. Later this year, AAP will release final figures that include sales estimates from publishers that do not report to the association.
According to the StatShot data, the adult trade category had the largest gain in the year, with sales from reporting publishers up 5.1% over 2017, to $5.13 billion. Sales of religious books rose 4.5% in the year and sales in the children’s/young adult category increased 3.3% in the year, to $2.11 billion.
The two major educational publishing segments—higher education course materials and pre-K–12 instructional materials—had revenue declines of 7.2% and 4.6%, respectively. Sales of professional books dropped 2.7% compared to 2017. The small university press segment had the largest revenue decline, with sales down 9.5%, to $50.3 million.
The increase in the trade market—which AAP classifies as adult, children’s, and religion—was led by sales of downloadable audio, which rose 37.1%, to $469.3 million, from reporting publishers. Physical audio sales plunged 21.5%, to $45.7 million. Still, the combined audiobook market rose 29% in 2018 over 2017, reaching $515 million from reporting publishers.
In contrast to the growth in digital audio, e-book sales continued to decline in the trade segment last year compared to 2017. E-book trade sales from reporting publishers declined 3.6%, to $1.02 billion.
Print sales in the trade segment were led by hardcovers, where sales rose 6.9% over 2017. Sales of trade paperback and mass market paperback increased 1.1% compared to 2017.