Figures from AAP’s StatShot program provide another indication that the book buying sales increase of 2020 has carried into the early months of 2021. According to the 1,359 publishers who submit sales to AAP, revenue rose 16.4% in the first two months of 2021 over the comparable period in 2020.
The increase was led by a nearly 26% gain in sales of adult trade books and 13% increases each in the children/young adult and higher educational course materials categories. Net sales increases were helped by a significant decline in returns in the first two months of 2021 compared to 2020. Total gross sales were up 8.5% in the two-month period. (AAP calculates net sale by subtracting returns from gross sales.)
Sales in the first two months of 2020 were unaffected by the pandemic. Earlier this year, NPD BookScan reported that unit sales of print books were up 29% through the entire first quarter.
For the first two months of 2021, the adult trade segment had double digit increases in both print and digital formats, led by a 43.1% increase in hardcover sales and a 38.7% increase in mass market paperback sales. E-book sales rose 16.2% over the first two months of 2020, while digital audio sales increased 22.2%.
In the children/YA segment, e-book sales soared 72.9%, but still accounted for only 6.7% of sales. Digital audio jumped 40.5%, accounting for 3.2% of revenue) Hardcover and paperback segment sales each rose 13.5%, while board book sales declined 2.6%.
Total sales reported to AAP for the month of February alone were up 24.7% over 2020. The surge was led by a 60% jump in higher education and a 22.2% increase in adult trade sales.