July was a bad month for publishing, with book sales falling 14.9% from a year ago for the 1,368 publishers who report financial results to AAP’s StatShot program. Every category had a sales decline in the month, with the professional books segment seeing the largest drop at 24.3%.
Sales of adult books fell 11.4%, while sales in the children’s/YA category dropped 13.5%. Religion book sales had the smallest decline at 6.4%. Sales of higher education course materials and in the university press category fell 19.8% and 22.3%, respectively. The K-12 instructional materials sales report has been delayed.
The July decline in the adult segment was largely due to a 31.7% plunge in sales of hardcovers, which offset a 1.3% increase in trade paperback sales. Sales of mass market paperbacks, which accounted for only about 3% of adult sales in July, tumbled 42.7%.
On the digital side, downloadable audio sales managed to rise 10.2% in the month, but e-book sales fell 6.6%.
Hardcover sales also took a big hit in the children’s/YA segment, falling 24.5% in the month. Paperback sales, the largest format, declined 12.3%.
For the first seven months of 2022, adult sales were down 4.1% from the comparable period in 2021. Higher sales of trade paperbacks and downloadable audio were offset by declines in the other formats. Sales of children’s/YA books were up 1.3%.
For all publishers that report to the AAP, sales declined 4.1% through July.