Increases in the adult book and higher education materials categories offset declines in other areas, resulting in a 0.3% gain in total industry sales in August over a year ago at the 1,361 publishers who report results to the Association of American Publishers. Adult book sales rose 13.2% in the month, while sales in the higher educational course materials category were up 7.8%, according to AAP's StatShot.
Within the adult segment, the August gains were led by higher digital sales as well as an increase in the hardcover format. Sales of downloadable audio, which had a sales increase of 15% through July, saw a jump of about 32% in August. E-book sales rose 14.6% in August and hardcover sales increased 29% in the month, while trade paperback sales increased by less than 1%.
In the children’s/young adult category, August sales fell 3.8% compared to August 2019, with all print categories posting sales declines. Board books had the largest decline, with sales off 22.6%. E-book sales jumped 59.4% over August 2019, and downloadable audio sales had a big gain, with sales up 43.8%. The two digital formats still represented only a small portion of total sales in the category, with e-book sales representing 5.3% of August sales and downloadable audio 2.4%.
In the other categories in August, sales of religious book slipped 0.5%, and sales in the professional publishing category fell 2.1%. K-12 instructional materials sales fell 13.9%, while university press sales declined 0.7%.
For the first eight months of the year, industry sales were down 4.6% compared to the same period in 2019. In the trade segment, adult book sales rose 5.7% and children/YA sales increased 5.8%. Within the adult category, sales of downloadable audio increased 17.4% over the first eight months of 2019, and e-book sales rose 10.8%. Combined, the digital formats accounted for 31.5% of adult book sales through August, up from 29.4% in the comparable period a year ago.