As last April was one of the low sales points of the pandemic, it comes as little surprise that statistics newly released by the Association of American Publishers found that total sales for the 1,358 publishers that report results to the association jumped 43.7% in April 2021 over the same period last year. All segments posted big gains in the month, especially the two education categories.
Sales in the higher educational course materials category jumped 96.6%, while sales increased 68.7% in the K-12 instructional materials segment. University press sales soared by nearly 149%. The AAP noted that the performance of the education categories in April reflected multiple factors, including rebounding business post-Covid and reduced returns in higher ed as more students used digital/online materials, which are rarely returned. In addition, the percentage increase between April 2020 and April 2021 reflects the fact that school districts delayed purchases until later in the year.
On the trade side, April adult book sales jumped 41.4%, and children’s/young adult sales increased 18.4%. Religion sales were up 57%.
In the adult book segment, print sales soared, with trade paperback sales up 76.7% and hardcover sales increasing by 52.1%. Mass market paperback sales were up 11.4%. E-book sales, which jumped last April, fell 1.4% in April 2021. Conversely, digital audio sales, which slumped for a short period last spring, rose 21.5% this April over 2020.
In children’s/YA, e-book sales slipped 2.3%, but sales of all print formats rose. That increase was led by hardcover, where sales jumped 36.5%.
With the strong April performance, sales of all reporting publishers to AAP's StatShot program were up 27% in the first four months of 2021. Adult book sales increased by 30.9% and children’s/YA were up 22.7% over the comparable period in 2020.