The July edition of the Association of American Publishers’ StatShot program showed a clear divide between the current fortunes of trade and educational publishers.
Sales of adult books rose 20.9% in the month over July 2019, and sales in the children/young adult category increased 14.5%. Sales of religious books were up 4% over July 2019. In contrast, sales in the K-12 instructional materials category fell 24.9% compared to last July, while sales in the higher educational course materials segment fell 21.9%. Overall, industry sales from the 1,361 publishers who report sales to the AAP fell 9.4% in the month, and were down 5.8% in the first seven months of 2020 compared to a year ago.
In July in the adult books segment, hardcovers led the gains in the category, with sales jumping 63%. The format was helped by the late June release of John Bolton’s The Room Where It Happened and the mid-July publication of Mary J. Trump’s Too Much and Never Enough, both of which became huge bestsellers. The digital formats also had a good July, with downloadable audio sales up 21% and e-book sales increasing 20.7%. Through July, downloadable audio sales rose 15.4% over the first seven months of 2019, while e-book sales were up 10.2%.
Hardcovers were also the driver in the children/YA segment, with sales up 31.4% in the month. Board book sales rose 20,4%, but paperback sales fell 6.6%. Downloadable audio sales jumped nearly 88% in the month, but still accounted for only 3.6% of category sales in July.
For the first seven months of 2020, sales of adult books were up 4.6% over the comparable period a year ago, and sales of children/YA titles were up 7.5%. Sales in the religious presses category dipped 0.2%, while sales in the K-12, and higher educational segments fell 28.3% and 5.2%, respectively, through July.