Sales of adult trade books fell 2.7% in 2019 compared to 2018, while sales in the children/young adult segment rose 6.8%, according to AAP’s StatShot program. Combining the adult and children/YA segments, total trade sales inched ahead 0.2%, to $7.26 billion, over 2018. Overall, for the 1,361 publishers who supplied data to AAP, sales rose 1.8% in the year, to $14.7 billion.
The K–12 instructional materials segment had by far the best year among the major publishing segments, with sales up 24% from reporting publishers. The other major educational segment, higher educational course materials, saw sales decline 10.7%. The religious press category (which AAP puts in the trade segment) managed to eke out an increase in the year, with sales up 1% over 2018.
Sales of professional books dropped 1.8%. The university press category also had a decline, with sales off 4%, according to StatShot.
Though retail bookstore sales were generally soft in December—the U.S. Census Bureau reported that sales were down 7.5% in the month—publishers of adult books reporting to StatShot saw a 3.5% sales increase over December 2018. The children/YA segment saw sales jump 22.6%.
For the full year, sales of all print formats were down in the adult book segment, with mass market paperback posting the biggest decline. In that category, sales dropped 14.7% compared to 2018. Hardcover sales declined 7.8%, and trade paperback sales slipped 1.2%.
Downloadable audio was the only bright spot in the adult segment, with sales up 23.2% over 2018 for publishers that report to StatShot. Digital audio accounted for 9.9% of adult book sales in 2019, up from 7.8% in 2018. E-book sales fell 4.3% at publishers who report to StatShot and accounted for 17.1% of adult book sales last year, down slightly from the 17.3% of sales the format accounted for in 2018. The rise in downloadable audio sales was enough to offset the dip in e-book sales, resulting in digital sales comprising 27% of publishers’ revenue in 2019, compared to 25.1% in 2018.
In the children/YA category, all print segments had increases over2018: paperback sales rose 10.1% and hardcover and board book sales rose 3.9% for both formats.
The AAP will release full industry sales estimates, which include sales from publishers who did not report their results to StatShot, later this year.