This October, the adult and children’s/young adult segments had polar opposite results—sales of adult books rose 10.2% in the month over 2019, while sales in the children’s/YA category fell 10.2% for publishers that report results to AAP’s StatShot program.
Gains in the adult segment were led by an 18.2% increase in sales of trade paperbacks, and both digital formats saw double digit increases as e-book sales rose 13% and downloadable audio sales increased 12% over 2019.
E-book sales got off to a slow start in the year, but eventually began to pick up speed as the pandemic settled in for a long stay. Through the first 10 months of 2020, e-book sales were up 11.5% and accounted for 18.1% of total adult sales, slightly up from 17.7% in the comparable period in 2019. Downloadable audio sales of adult books rose 15.8% in the first 10 months of 2020, and their share of the overall adult market was 10.7% at the end of October, up from 10% in the same period last year.
Overall, in the first 10 months of 2020, adult trade book sales rose 9.1% over the comparable period in 2019 at publishers who reported sales to AAP.
In children’s/YA, the two biggest print formats had large October declines, with hardcover falling 9.5% from last October and paperback dropping 20.2%. E-book sales soared 117%, but represented just 4.6% of sales in the month.
For the year to date, sales in the category were up 4.2%. The digital formats, which still represent only 8.7% of total revenue, had the largest gains, with e-book sales up 74.7% and downloadable audio up 37.6%.
Total sales for the 1,354 publishers who reported sales to AAP rose 7.3% in the month. The higher educational course materials category had the largest gain, of 280%. K-12 instructional material sales fell 14%. Professional book sales increased 22% in the month. Religion book sales had a small decline, 1%, and sales by university presses fell 7.6% in the month.
For all categories, 10-month sales dipped 1% due entirely to softness in K-12 instructional materials sales, which fell 21.1%. In addition to the 9.1% gain in the adult book segment, the children’s/YA segment had a 4.2% increase in the 10-month span.