Sales of adult trade books rose 2.4% in the first quarter of 2019, over the comparable period in 2018, while sales in the children/young adult category increased 9.7%, according to the Association of American Publishers’ monthly StatShot program.
The downloadable audio segment continued to be the primary driver in the adult trade segment, with sales up 35.5%. Digital audio accounted for 11.4% of all adult book sales in the quarter, up from 8.6% in the first period of 2018. In contrast, e-book sales fell 5.0% in the quarter. While e-book sales are still considerably higher than digital audio sales, the gap is closing. E-book sales represented 21.1% of adult trade sales in the first period, compared to 22.8% in the same quarter a year ago.
Trade paperback sales were up 5.1% in the period, but mass market paperback sales tumbled 22.7%. Hardcover sales fell by about 1%.
In the children/young adult category, the 9.7% increase was led by a 14.6% increase in board book sales and an 11.3% gain in hardcover sales.
For the 1,372 publishers who report their revenue to the AAP, total first quarter sales were up 6.7% over the comparable period in 2018. The religious press segment had the strongest increase, with sales up 20.6%. Coming off of a soft 2018, sales in both educational categories were up in the period. K-12 instructional material sales increased 8.0% and sales of higher educational course materials rose 11.6%.
Sales of professional books dropped 8.1% in the quarter and university press sales were down 7.0%.