Publishing industry sales rose 3.5% in the first two months of 2020 over the comparable period in 2019, according to sales supplied to the AAP by 1,361 publishers for the organization’s StatShot report. Following a 3.7% increase in January, sales rose 3.1% in February over February 2019. The solid sales gains in the pre-Covid-19 era are certain to give way to softer sales when March results come in.
The adult trade segment had a 5.3% sales increase in February, and sales were up 2.9% in the first two months of the year. Digital audio sales drove the sales gains in the first two months of 2020, rising 17.2%. The format accounted for 13% of adult trade sales in the first two months of 2020, up from 12% a year ago. Physical audio book sales, however, have all but disappeared. Sales of the format from reporting publishers were down 35.3% in the first two months of the year, and accounted for just 0.4% of segment sales.
On the print side, hardcover and trade paperback sales were up 5.8% and 6.4%, respectively, while mass market paperback sales fell 11.4% in the first two months of the year. E-book sales declined 6.0%.
In the children/young adult segment, sales were up 6.3% in the first two months of the year. Here, too, downloadable audio gave a boost to the industry, with sales up 14.1%. The format accounted for a much smaller part of sales than in the adult segment, representing 2.7% of sales in the children/young adult segment in the first two months of the year. Board book sales rose 12.3% and paperback sales increased 9.6%.
For the entire industry, the professional publishing segment had the best start to the year, with sales increasing 17.3%. Religion sales were down 1.7% in the two-month period. In education, sales in the K-12 instructional materials category were down 1.1% in first two months of 2020 period, but were up 2.8% in the higher education segment.