Book sales fell 4.1% in June compared to one year ago at the 1,361 publishers that supply sales information to AAP's StatShot report. Declines came in the education and professional categories, where sales of K-12 instructional materials dropped 29.7% and higher educational course materials sales declined 9.7%. Sales of professional books fell 12.4%.
The trade and religion segments had solid June gains, with sales of religious books jumping 50%, while sales in the children's/young adult and adult books categories rose 25.9% and 21.5% respectively.
The June data also indicates a return to more normal return patterns following big declines in April and May, a drop some publishers feared would eventually led to a plethora of returns. The return rate fell less dramatically in June than in the two previous months, falling 10.5% from June 2019. Returns were down 45.2% in May compared to a year ago.
June returns were down 8.9% in the adult book category and dipped 3.6% in children's/YA from 2019. (In May, returns were down 41.8% in adult books and 46.2% in children's/YA). And unlike the previous couple of months where gross sales declined, gross sales were up 15.3% and 20.8%, respectively, in the adult books and children's/YA segments. (AAP calculates net sales by deducting returns from gross sales.)
The improved June sales are in line with reports from a number of publishers, who said June sales rose after slumping in April and May.
Within the adult segment, hardcover sales jumped 33%, while sales of trade paperback rose 25.3%. E-book sales had another strong month, rising 29.2% over 2019. Downloadable audiobook sales increased 8.4%. Sales of mass market paperbacks fell 7.8%.
E-book sales soared 132.5% in June in the children's/YA segment, and the format accounted from 7.6% of category sales in June 2020, up from 4.1% in June 2019. Board book sales increased 41.7%, while hardcover sales rose 29%.
For the first six months of 2020, sales from reporting companies were down 4.2% compared to the first half of 2019. Gross sales were down 8.1% in the period compared to a year ago, offset by a 24% drop in returns. The biggest net sales decline came in the K-12 category, where sales tumbled 30.3%. Net sales of adult books were up 1.8% in the first half of the year and children's/YA sales rose 6.3%.